Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2023-24: Session 20

Joint Curiosity and Meta-Conceptualization

Ilhan Inan (Koç University)


3 May 2024, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – WET)

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão [C201.J] (Departamento de Filosofia)


Abstract: I shall argue that joint curiosity is an advanced form of joint attention which has played a crucial role in the emergence of the sciences and philosophy and other feats that have shaped the modern human cultures. When two (or more) agents mutually attend to an entity of which they have little or even no knowledge, which in turn gives rise to joint awareness of ignorance coupled with joint epistemic interest, there emerges joint curiosity. Inspired by Hume’s idea that curiosity is an attention fixer and Kripke’s notion of fixing reference by description, I shall utilize my own work on curiosity to demonstrate that in the typical cases of joint curiosity, attention gets fixed upon an unknown entity which is the referent of an inostensible linguistic expression. Expanding on an idea from my recent book on truth I shall introduce the notion of meta-conceptualization, our linguistic ability to make concepts and propositions the subject-matter of higher-order judgments. After briefly discussing how this notion relates to metacognition and metarepresentation, I shall argue that our aptitude for meta-conceptualization is a precondition for us to ask questions out of curiosity and share it with others. I shall end by briefly arguing that joint curiosity being the primary motivator for joint human inquiry adds further support to Miscevic’s contention that curiosity is the basic epistemic virtue.