Nor is it every sober person of your acquaintance, no, nor every man of bright talents, or rich in learning, that is fit to engage in free conversation for the inquiry after truth. Let a person have ever so illustrious talents, yet he is not a proper associate for such a purpose, if he lie under any of the following infirmities:
1. If he be haughty and proud of his knowledge, imperious in his airs, and is always fond of imposing his sentiments on all the company.
2. If he be positive and dogmatical in his own opinions, and will dispute to the end; if he will resist the brightest evidence of truth rather than suffer himself to be overcome, or yield to the plainest and strongest reasonings.
3. If he be one who always affects to outshine all the company, and delights to hear himself talk or flourish upon a subject, and make long harangues, while the rest must be all silent and attentive.
4. If he be fretful and peevish, and given to resentment upon all occasions; if he knows not how to bear contradiction, or is ready to take things in a wrong sense; if he is swift to feel a supposed offence, or to imagine himself affronted, and then break out into a sudden passion, or retain silent and sullen wrath.
5. If he affect wit on all occasions, and is full of his conceits and puns, quirks or quibbles, jests and repartees; these may agreeably entertain and animate an hour of mirth, but they have no place in the search after truth.
6. If he carry always about him a sort of craft, and cunning, and disguise, and act rather like a spy than a friend. Have care of such a one as will make an ill use of freedom in conversation, and immediately charge heresy upon you, when you happen to differ from those sentiments which authority or custom has established.
In short, you should avoid the man, in such select conversation, who practices anything that is unbecoming the character of a sincere, free, and open searcher of truth.”
Photo by Jose Miguel Rodriguez