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  Human beings are not the only inquisitive creatures in the world. Puzzlement and the urge to investigate are commonplace. It is what happens next that makes our case unique. Other animals satisfy their curiosity, and that is an end of it. When the same events happen again, they will be inquisitive again, and satisfied again. Their curiosity is part of the hunting instinct, and needs little or no intellectuality.

Human curiosity, by contrast, involves ratiocination—reflection, consideration, comparison, memory—and it often leads to creativity. As a species, we are seldom satisfied with the status quo for long. When we accept it, our acceptance is not instinctive but one choice from a range of options, an exercise of judgement. And we are quickly bored. The stimulus of change is essential to our mental well-being, and we ceaselessly strive either to bring it about or to make the choice to leave things as they are—where choice is involved, repetition is, each time, a form of change. There are no human activities which have not engaged our curious interest, and roused our eagerness for change. Even such instinctive quests as for food, shelter and reproduction are subject to incessant variation, and when it comes to such matters as social organization or belief, the difference between us and other animals, a difference created solely by our need for change, is over-whelmingly apparent. Other creatures have no need of fashion or style; they never establish or react to traditions (their behaviour patterns are instinctive); they create nothing (a weaver-bird\'s nest is not ‘created’ in the way a skyscraper or a tragedy is ‘created’); they neither imagine nor criticize.

If the necessity to change things is one of the glories of humanity, it is also our curse. Throughout history (itself a continuum of change) the urge for change has led as often to destruction as to creation, and we may well end up changing ourselves and our planet until we exterminate ourselves. This thought has prompted many people to pursue such activities as introspection, meditation, or cries for help to non-human agencies and powers, real or imagined—and each of these activities is another facet of our dissatisfaction, our need for change: in short, of the unchanging human intellectual condition. KMcL



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