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International Journal of Applied Philosophy

Volume 15, Issue 2, Fall 2001

Elias Baumgarten
Pages 169-184

Curiosity as a Moral Virtue

I argue that curiosity about the world deserves attention as a moral virtue, even apart from the role it may play in (the more generally praised) love of wisdom. First, close relationships and caring are reasonably considered part of a well-lived life, and curiosity is important for caring both about people and about things in the world. Second, curiosity helps us to define an appropriate way for persons to be affected by certain situations. Perhaps most important, curiosity can help one to live well because it addresses the most fundamental existential task humans face, the need to see their lives as meaningful. I argue that curiosity is a distinctive virtue but suggest that related virtues (e.g., receptivity, reverence) may contribute to different kinds of worthy engagement with the world.

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