好奇心的困境和功用

爱因斯坦曾说:“我没有特殊的天分,但我有极强的好奇心。”当然,爱因斯坦实在是太谦虚了。但不可否认,好奇心是科学发现中的一种强大的驱动力。的确,和才能、兴趣,以及数学或其它量化能力一样,好奇心是每一个成功科学家的必要特征。

好奇心是对激情的叛离。它是一种不自觉地被某些难以抵挡的事物攫住的状态。正因为如此,我们对这种别无选择的情况只能做出理性有限的解释。我们都带着好奇心来到这个世界,具有探索世界的精神动力,并力图扩张我们自认为可以主宰的领域。一本知名的发展心理学著作题为《婴儿床上的科学家》决非偶然。该书跟踪研究了幼童的行为和科学上常用的流程和研究战略之间的并联关系。

但驱动天生好奇心超越既定领域的求知冲动并不是天马行空的。父母们都反映随着子女开始接受学校教育,他们顽皮的手段突然发生了变化。那是因为他们必须关注课程规定的学习目标。同样,不论科学创造超出人预期和不可预知的结果的能力多么令人向往,它也不能宣称自己不对社会负责。

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