We establish the rules of good-breeding, in order to prevent
the opposition of men’s pride, and render conversation
agreeable and inoffensive…
…among well-bred [polite] people, a
mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority
concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an
easy stream of conversation maintained, without vehemence,
without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without
any airs of superiority.
—David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature
If I am sparring with a strong and solid opponent he will attack me on
the flanks, stick his lance in me right and left; his ideas send
mine soaring. Rivalry, competitiveness and glory will drive me
and raise me above my own level. . . . Our mind is strengthened
by contact with vigorous and well-ordered minds.
– Michel Montaigne