London Branch Lunchtime Talk
All are welcome.
In most educational discourses, politically sensitive interrogations of what counts as curiosity and whether it should unconditionally be elevated to an educational aim are missing. Likewise, educational theory bypasses the possibility that epistemic retreat might in some cases be more relevant than an unqualified epistemic curiosity. However, some more complex accounts of curiosity have been offered in philosophy of education by reference to Freire, Heidegger, Freud, Foucault and Rancière amongst others. Such philosophical educational discussions shake the positivist architectonic through which the notion of curiosity has often been theorized but they are still unaware of, or unresponsive to, some more intricate political operations of curiosity (e.g. colonial operations from antiquity to the present). This paper begins with a historicization of curiosity to explore the gradual, modern transformation of curiosity from vice into virtue and the colonial aspect of its conceptual history. Although curiosity’s participation in colonialism, both ancient and modern, has remained non-theorized in postmodern educational philosophy, other, more general complicities of episteme in violence have often led postmodern discourses to blanket incrimination of knowledge and of its scopic drive. Instead of adding to such an incrimination, the paper’s narrative of curiosity’s political ‘career’ aims precisely to avoid sweeping and non-nuanced accounts that either glorify any epistemic desire or indict it wholesale.