Everyone has heard the phrase “curiosity kills the cat”, yet we have also been told to question and search. It seems that we are once told to stick to the surface and again told to dig deeper. I believe that life truly requires a balance of both. There is always a time to inquire and a time to remain silent. Plutarch writes of this in his essay “Of Curiosity”. He describes how there are some people who think it is their place to know everyone’s business. They “cannot be satisfied unless they rake into the private and concealed evils of every family in the neighborhood.” People like this are rarely trusted and are seen as enemies rather than friends. There are matters that are meant to be kept private. “Without knocking at the door, it is great rudeness to enter another’s house,” as Plutarch puts it. Boundless curiosity is not only rude to the others around us, but is harmful to those who have it.
Despite this, there is a way to use curiosity in the proper setting. Plutarch proposes “to avoid the danger of this curiosity, divert thy thoughts to more safe and delightful enquiries.” Nature holds secrets that are meant to be analyzed. There are questions in life that need to be answered. If we direct any curiosity in those directions, it will not go to waste. Dig into ancient histories or books of principles and virtue. Seek to educate yourself on the things that matter. This will not be harmful. In fact, it is normally the opposite.
We cannot avoid curiosity in our lives. However, we can direct it towards the proper ends. There is nothing wrong with questions as long as they are focused on the proper issues. As we dive into knowledge, there is no limit. We should always strive towards understanding the world around us. Being inquisitive is not always a bad thing. We simply must learn where to direct our growing minds. This ability comes through maturity and education. Let us together push towards that perfect balance.