Tag Archives: advice

Philip Dormer Stanhope

The art of pleasing is a very necessary one to possess; but a very difficult one to acquire. It can hardly be reduced to rules; and your own good sense and observation will teach you more of it than I can. Do as you would be done by, is the surest method that I know of pleasing. Observe carefully what pleases you in others, and probably the same thing in you will please others. If you are pleased with the complaisance and attention of others to your humors, your tastes, or your weaknesses, depend upon it the same complaisance and attention, on your part to theirs, will equally please them. Take the tone of the company that you are in, and do not pretend to give it; be serious, gay, or even trifling, as you find the present humor of the company; this is an attention due from every individual to the majority. Do not tell stories in company; there is nothing more tedious and disagreeable; if by chance you know a very short story, and exceedingly applicable to the present subject of conversation, tell it in as few words as possible; and even then, throw out that you do not love to tell stories; but that the shortness of it tempted you. Of all things, banish the egotism out of your conversation, and never think of entertaining people with your own personal concerns, or private, affairs; though they are interesting to you, they are tedious and impertinent to everybody else; besides that, one cannot keep one’s own private affairs too secret. Whatever you think your own excellencies may be, do not affectedly display them in company; nor labor, as many people do, to give that turn to the conversation, which may supply you with an opportunity of exhibiting them. If they are real, they will infallibly be discovered, without your pointing them out yourself, and with much more advantage. Never maintain an argument with heat and clamor, though you think or know yourself to be in the right: but give your opinion modestly and coolly, which is the only way to convince; and, if that does not do, try to change the conversation, by saying, with good humor, “We shall hardly convince one another, nor is it necessary that we should, so let us talk of something else.”

Philip Dormer Stanhope, letter to his son, October 16, 1747

C. D. Broad

It appears to me that the best preparation for original work on any philosophic problem is to study the solutions which have been proposed for it by men of genius whose views differ from each other as much as possible. The clash of their opinions may strike a light which will enable us to avoid the mistakes into which they have fallen; and by noticing the strong and weak points of each theory we may discover the direction in which further progress can be made.

C. D. Broad, Five Types of Ethical Theory, London, 1930, pp. 1-2

John Stuart Mill

Aim at something great; aim at things which are difficult; and there is no great thing which is not difficult. Do not pare down your undertaking to what you can hope to see successful in the next few years, or in the years of your own life. Fear not the reproach of Quixotism and impracticability, or to be pointed at as the knight-errants of an idea. After you have well weighed what you undertake, if you see your way clearly, and are convinced that you are right, go forward, even though you […] do it at the risk of being torn to pieces by the very men through whose changed hearts your purpose will one day be accomplished. Fight on with all your strength against whatever odds, and with however small a band of supporters. If you are right, the time will come when that small band will swell into a multitude: you will at least lay the foundations of something memorable, and you may […]—though you ought not to need or expect so great a reward—be spared to see that work completed which, when you began it, you only hoped it might be given to you to help forward a few stages on its way.

John Stuart Mill, ‘William Lloyd Garrison’, in The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Toronto, 1988, vol. 28, p. 202

G. E. Moore

If the reader wishes to form an impartial judgment as to what the fundamental problems of Ethics really are, and what is the true answer to them, it is of the first importance that he should not confine himself to reading works of any one single type, but should realize what extremely different sorts of things have seemed to different writers, of acknowledged reputation, to be the most important things to be said about the subject.

G. E. Moore, Ethics, London, 1912, p. 253