Voltaire’s “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms,” or a variation thereof, has been one of my favorite sayings since my freshman history teacher in college wrote in on the board the first day of class.
I usually think of it in terms of debate — the maneuvering done to ensure it is contested on one’s own terms.
I had a pair of frustrating debates online over the weekend — although given their arguments were the same and they had other similar characteristics, I can’t guarantee it was two different people — because they refused to address the question I presented.
Instead, they wanted to converse on different terms, probably because they knew they’d lose on mine.
Continue reading “The words of our times”