83. Restless Mind: Curiositas & the Scope of Inquiry in St. Augustine’s Psychology, by Joseph Torchia, O.P.
ISBN 978-0-87462-719-0. Paperback. 312 pages. 5.5 x 8.5. Bibliography. Index. LIST PRICE: $29.00
Students of St. Augustine might well assume that he identified restlessness exclusively
with the impulses of the heart and the range of affectivities shaping human choices.
But Augustine was also preoccupied with the dynamics of the restless mind prompted
by curiosity. His extensive discussions of curiosity (which he identified with the
“lust of the eyes” of Scripture) reveal a profound psychological discovery on his part,
namely, the cognitive appetitiveness that provides the stimulus to our ongoing search
for knowledge. This book explores the metaphysical, epistemological, and moral
implications of curiosity in Augustine’s writings, against the background of the
classical, scriptural, and patristic traditions. In broader terms, it puts Augustine in
conversation with later currents of thought, assessing how his deliberations on the
curious disposition say something significant about the scope and limits of human
inquiry, particularly in the context of scientific investigation.
Joseph Torchia, O.P., is Professor of Philosophy at Providence College, Regent of Studies for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph (Eastern U.S.A.), and an Associate Editor of The Thomist. He holds doctorates in philosophy (Fordham University) and in Early Christian Studies (The Catholic University of America). His wide-ranging publications in philosophy and historical theology include Plotinus, Tolma, and the Descent of Being: An Exposition and Analysis (1993); Creatio ex nihilo and the Theology of St. Augustine: The Anti-Manichaean Polemic and Beyond (1999); and Exploring Personhood: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Human Nature (2008).