Friday, 15 July 2011

Curiosity is only vanity - Pascal Pensee No. 77


Curiosity is only vanity. We usually only want to know something so that we can talk about it; in other words, we would never travel by sea if it meant never talking about it, and for the sheer pleasure of seeing things we could never hope to describe to others.

Blaise Pascal - Pensees - Number 77. Translated by AJ Krailsheimer, Penguin edition of 1966.


I recognized the truth of this specific point early in life, in relation to travel and holidays - that these were apparently, usually, planned and conducted primarily so as to be talked-about afterwards.

But then so much else is also done for that reason and none other.

As a thought experiment, it is worth considering what arduous and time-consuming things we would bother to do if we were forbidden ever to mention the experience.