How bad is pride and selfishness in the way of those who wish to become Islamic scholars? How can they counter these ills?
The very concept of becoming a Muslim scholar is that the person is attempting to attain the most comprehensive understanding and education regarding Islam. This is different from an Orientalist or a non-Muslim studying Islam because a Muslim scholar is one who practices the religion to the best of his/her ability while learning the wide range of subjects regarding Islamic theology. Pride is the complete opposite of what Islam expects out of its adherents and is against the very nature of the process of learning, which is one of the elements of scholarship. Pride can hinder the very exchanges scholars have with others and it may even adversely affect the very reception of information that the scholar is supposed to learn from. A scholar that is full of negative pride taints his/her works, opinions and most importantly him/herself. Selfishness is also detrimental, because it too goes against the very nature of scholarship. The Muslim scholar is to study not only for educating him/herself but to benefit the world with the knowledge attained through this studying. This actually comes from Islamic teachings that even the lay should teach whatever good knowledge they have to those around them. Naturally, this transfers to scholars as well.
There is no greater medicine for such ills than the relationship one has with God. Through prayer, good deeds, kindness, giving a helping hand etc… one develops the strength to fight these diseases. The key is to follow what one learns, for if the person is truly grasping a most honest understanding of Islam, then I see no potential of being swayed by other things. However, keep in mind that scholars are human beings they are not angels. They are flawed. They are not our perfect example they are our learners and teachers. Though they help us, we need to help them by not judging them against elevated measurements or expect from them what is humanly impossible. A Muslim scholar is only a person, seeking to understand the Truth and bring his/her spirit as close to God Almighty as possible.
I hope I have clarified the issue.
God knows best.