Going to the conference in Geneva next week, and will talk about curiosity. In preparation, a minor sidepoint about it. The issue is what kind of motivational state curiosity is.
So, first, a partial list of motivational states. They include desires, needs, wishes, hopes, drives, instincts, fears, interests, etc. I don’t mean for the list to be complete, but just to convey some idea of the variety of motivational states. Relevant to my concerns is the different between motivational states with (roughly semantic) content and those without. So, for example, desires can be de dicto, de re, or de se, but all three types are states with content. In the case of de dicto desires, the content is propositional; in the case of de re desires, the content involves (at least) whatever is expressed by a predicative expression that correctly described the content of the desire with respect to the object in question; and in the case of de se desires, the same can be said as with de re desires, except of course that the object in question is oneself (conceived of as oneself).
Other motivational states don’t have content in this way (though they may have content in the way that, say, one’s genetic code has content). Among the content-less are needs, instincts, and interests.
The question is whether curiosity is essentially a contentful motivational state. I’m inclined to think that the answer is “no”, on grounds involving young children and animals: Curiosity is displayed so early in child development, for example, that I don’t see how it needs to involve mental content at all. So, I’m inclined to think of it as a motivational state that can have content but need not.
Thoughts on this most welcome!