Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The name of the rose and other religious dubia ... curiositas.

It's a fun past time, maybe a cool hobby, it could even be the beginning of a great career in writing and film making - if your're good at it, but it's just intrigue and conspiracy theories, leading to speculation and even gossip, while the pursuit of such knowledge may even involve the vice of curiositas ... Although I may be wrong.

Rather than some outdated holdover from the Middle Ages, the vice of curiositas is alive and well. Indeed, one might go so far as to say the Internet made it again a defining vice of our time.
For the medieval schoolmen, curiositas (let us stick to the Latin to avoid contemporary connotations) did not concern knowledge in and of itself, but rather the pursuit of knowledge. Thomas Aquinas thought that knowledge is in and of itself always good, since any act of knowing “feeds” truth to the intellect, which brings the intellect, and hence the soul, ever closer to perfection. Yet Aquinas thought the pursuit of knowledge could sometimes be wrongful, much in the same way as bread retains its nourishing value even if wrongfully pursued by a gluttonous eater on a full stomach. The analogy is apt—Aquinas believed in such a thing as an intellectual appetite—but a limited one. After all, the glutton sins because he eats beyond satiety. But we do not usually acknowledge the existence of a point of intellectual satiety beyond which we must not go. How can knowledge be pursued wrongfully, indeed sinfully?
In his Summa Theologiae, Aquinas points to several ways. Gossiping, or endeavoring to know about another’s private affairs. The man who seeks knowledge just so he can take pride in what he knows also engages in curiositas. Then Aquinas borrows Jerome’s harsh words against those who pursue frivolous knowledge, thereby neglecting their duties: “We see priests forsaking the gospels and the prophets, reading stage-plays, and singing the love songs of pastoral idylls.” There is also the man who pursues what far exceeds his understanding, falling into systematic error and hence no knowledge at all. Finally, there is the man who loses sight of the ultimate end of pursuing knowledge, indeed of any pursuit, God.

The virtue Aquinas opposes to curiositas is not humility, but studiousness, that is, knowledge pursued well. Neither does Aquinas condemn empirical observation or even the pursuit of difficult subjects, so long as one possesses genuine ability. - Luis Pinto de Sa

Q. Where's the basement?
A. Downstairs.

H/T to DB for the inspiration of this post. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a post that requires to be read twice maybe three times. One time slowly to savor every word. Man is a curious creature. Knowledge can be used for good or ill. Intimate relationships give another power about you and over you. I have witnessed loving relationships turn sour and destructive. Who has not seen a divorce put two once loving people go dark to one another? Gossip has become the new idol. Only Divine grace can save and cleanse.


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