the joy of inquiry

“Inquiry can be like a love affair, and the inquirer like a lover. Our passion for our subject can drive us to near-obsession, with a deep desire to understand the beloved, to be with her or him, to explore every nook and cranny of body and soul. Inquiry can be passionate, overwhelming. In (auto-) biographical accounts of inquiry by scientists and philosophers and writers, there are numerous stories of staying up all night, of being teased by subtle but ambiguous clues, of feeling seduced and rejected, of breakups and temporary separations followed by hurried reconciliations. Love may not always be easy, but it’s a powerful force. We want to know the objects of our affection, know their deepest feelings and desires, learn about what makes them happy, where they came from, how they appeared in our lives. And it is when inquiry ceases in relationships, when we think we know our partner, and subsequently start taking her or him for granted, that we know the relationship is starting to go in the wrong direction. In some ways, love is inquiry, at a deep feeling level, understanding who “we” are, who “we,” this new entity, can be . . . And love, as the research of social psychologists Elaine and Art Aron (1986) have shown, leads to an expansion of the self: people in love tend to write more, and more about themselves, than people who are not in love. We become more as we fall in love; we draw on more of our potential, more of who we can be. We are motivated, indeed driven, to pursue the object of our affection, and in the process, draw on more and more of ourselves. Lovers may sing and write poetry and find ways to express themselves to their beloved, even if they have no history of involvements in these arts previous to this outburst. Inquirers similarly dig deep and draw on all their resources to understand the subject of their undivided attention.”

The Joy of Inquiry – Alfonso Montuori