The Philosophy of Curiosity
By Ilhan Inan
Routledge – 2012 – 208 pages
In this book, Ilhan Inan questions the classical definition of curiosity as a desire to know. Working in an area where epistemology and philosophy of language overlap, Inan forges a link between our ability to become aware of our ignorance and our linguistic aptitude to construct terms referring to things unknown.
The book introduces the notion of inostensible reference (or reference to the unknown). Ilhan connects this notion to related concepts in philosophy of language: knowledge by acquaintance and knowledge by description; the referential and the attributive uses of definite descriptions; the de re/de dicto distinction; and Kripke’s distinction between rigid and accidental designators.
Continuing with a discussion of the conditions for curiosity and its satisfaction, Inan argues that the learning process—starting in curiosity and ending in knowledge—is always an effort to transform our inostensible terms into ostensible ones. A contextual account is adopted for the satisfaction of curiosity. It then discusses the conditions of successful reference to the object of curiosity and its presuppositions. The book concludes with a discussion on the limits of curiosity and its satisfaction.
"As the first book-length philosophical treatment of curiosity, this volume brings together epistemology and philosophy of language to the benefit of both disciplines. It is tightly argued, informative, and very timely. It will become standard reading on the topic." -- Dennis Whitcomb, Western Washington University, USA
Introduction 1. Meno’s Paradox and Inostensible Conceptualization 2. Asking and Answering 3. Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description 4. Referential and Attributive Uses of Definite Descriptions 5. De Re / De Dicto 6. Rigidity and Direct Reference 7. Reference to the Object of Curiosity 8. Conditions for Curiosity 9. Conditions for the Satisfaction of Curiosity 10. Relativity of Curiosity and its Satisfaction 11. Presuppositions of Curiosity 12. Limits of Curiosity and its Satisfaction
Ilhan Inan is a Professor of Philosophy at Bogaziçi University, Turkey.