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Curiosity Is Political: We Must Nurture It if We Hope to Change the World

Coming home a few months ago from yet another frustrating day of teaching, I had a sudden epiphany that crystallized my swirling emotions: Curiosity is political. The absence, presence, cultivation and extirpation of curiosity are all political tools of almost unimaginable power. They are also social outcomes with ubiquitous political consequences. It has been clear to the left for a long time that the contours of knowledge are politically drawn. In recent years, an interest in the politics of ignorance has begun to take shape, too; agnotology, as the philosophical study of ignorance is named, builds connections among politics, psychology and public memory to describe a social construction of ignorance that mirrors the social construction of knowledge. We should observe that this basic insight of agnotology is actually longstanding. Upton Sinclair remarked in 1934 that, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” making a direct case for a standpoint theory of ignorance. Unfortunately, neither epistemology (the field of philosophy which studies how we know what we know) nor agnotology has engaged in any notable way with the idea of curiosity, which is, after all, the means by which…

Source: Truth Out | Curiosity Is Political: We Must Nurture It if We Hope to Change the World

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Curiosity Is Political: We Must Nurture It if We Hope to Change the World

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