Writing in the sixteenth century, Michel de Montaigne is often considered the father of the art of conversation. Montaigne sees conversation as a sparring of the wit and intellect of its participants. Specialisation, education, and a sharp humour all are key. He further encourages seeing past rank and riches, and to listen and probe into the content of the words uttered. There was a degree of futility in entering into conversation, in the eyes of Montaigne, anyone with whom he could not delve into the nuance of meaning and spar. Quality assurance can take place through a mixture of skills and knowledge-base in an attempt to shape a result. The conversation is open-ended, to a point, but there is a herding role, keeping the conversation within the confines of the curatorial, and not moving into innocuous chit-chat, and as Montaigne indicates, there is a code of conduct for a proper conversation. Michel de Montaigne, 1993, The Complete Essays: Michel de Montaigne, (Screech, M. A. tans. and ed.), Penguin.

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