August 1 1812: Adams and Prejudice

On August 1, 1812, John Quincy Adams in St. Petersburg, Russia is in a philosophical mood reading Watt's Logic on prejudices. This probably refers to Isaac Watts Logic, or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. It was  first published in 1724. St Petersburg is expecting the arrival of Tsar Alexander. The inhabitants have been told by the police that the he may arrive any day and that they are expected to illuminate their homes on his arrival. The Tsar did not arrive today and Adams writes about prejudices and how to combat them:
2d. I read some pages in Watts's Logic on the doctrine of prejudices, which occasioned the reflection how excessively difficult it is to divest one's self of prejudices, and how much more difficult still to discard prejudices without falling into indifference with regard to important truth. I believe the best guard against prejudice is a frequent examination of our opinions and a cool estimate of the arguments opposed to them. You must, as Cicero says, identify yourself, in imagination, first with your adversary and then with your judge, and, above all, you must have resolution to abide by the result, even if it should be adverse to your preconceived opinions. The victory over prejudice is a conquest of one's self. It is better than to be the ruler of a city. 

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