Curious Minds: The Power of Connection

Curious Minds: The Power of Connection

Curious Minds: The Power of Connection

Curious Minds: The Power of Connection


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An exhilarating, genre-bending exploration of curiosity’s powerful capacity to connect ideas and people.

Curious about something? Google it. Look at it. Ask a question. But is curiosity simply information seeking? According to this exhilarating, genre-bending book, what’s left out of the conventional understanding of curiosity are the wandering tracks, the weaving concepts, the knitting of ideas, and the thatching of knowledge systems—the networks, the relations between ideas and between people. Curiosity, say Perry Zurn and Dani Bassett, is a practice of connection: it connects ideas into networks of knowledge, and it connects knowers themselves, both to the knowledge they seek and to each other.

Zurn and Bassett—identical twins who write that their book “represents the thought of one mind and two bodies”—harness their respective expertise in the humanities and the sciences to get irrepressibly curious about curiosity. Traipsing across literatures of antiquity and medieval science, Victorian poetry and nature essays, as well as work by writers from a variety of marginalized communities, they trace a multitudinous curiosity. They identify three styles of curiosity—the busybody, who collects stories, creating loose knowledge networks; the hunter, who hunts down secrets or discoveries, creating tight networks; and the dancer, who takes leaps of creative imagination, creating loopy ones. Investigating what happens in a curious brain, they offer an accessible account of the network neuroscience of curiosity. And they sketch out a new kind of curiosity-centric and inclusive education that embraces everyone’s curiosity. The book performs the very curiosity that it describes, inviting readers to participate—to be curious with the book and not simply about it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262547147
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 09/05/2023
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 998,470
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.81(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Perry Zurn is Associate Professor of Philosophy at American University. He is the author of Curiosity and Power: The Politics of Inquiry.

Dani S. Bassett is J. Peter Skirkanich Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. They are the author of more than 300 scientific research articles in neuroscience, physics, network science, and complex systems science.

Table of Contents

Preface: Our Story ix
A Brief Note on Visual Media xiii
Introduction: A New Vantage Point 1
1 The Science of Curiosity 19
2 Curiosity as Edgework 45
3 The Network Paradigm 65
4 Curiosity's Got Style 95
5 Webs of Knowledge 115
6 Curiosity Takes a Walk 147
7 Your Brain on Curiosity 169
8 Reimagining Education 197
Conclusion: On Curious Futures 219
Appendix: A Curious Bestiary 233
Acknowledgments 247
Notes 251
Index 281

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Zurn and Bassett changed my mind about what curiosity is at its essence. I am now convinced that curiosity is more than wanting to know—it is wanting to connect. This bold new theory for curiosity has enormous implications for building a more curious, creative, and equitable society."
—Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO, Character Lab, Rosa Lee and Egbert Chang Professor, University of Pennsylvania

"Curious Minds not only opens up a stunning new landscape for the study of innovation and creativity, but also provides fresh, practical insights into the kernel of inquisitiveness in each of us."
—Scott Barry Kaufman, host of The Psychology Podcast and author of Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization
"Here is a story of  the small network connecting siblings, with its intimate  possibilities, expanding into the network of ideas connecting the world, with its infinite possibilities. Herein science, philosophy, and art assert their equality in a matrix of the mysterious."
—David C Krakauer, President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems, Santa Fe Institute, and John W. Krakauer, John C. Malone Professor, Professor of Neurology & Neuroscience, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
"A brilliantly original exploration of curiosity. Reading this ambitious and joyful book is a marvelous experience in expanding the mind and the heart—in connecting all the dots to envision a better world."
—Barbara M. Benedict, Charles A. Dana Professor of English, Trinity College, author of Curiosity: A Cultural History of Early-Modern Inquiry

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