Reading Response: Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon


Reading Response to Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon 

In Linda Hutcheon’s article, she begins with a slip of the tongue, raising questions about the relationship between rhetoric and competition. In her discussion, reference was made to Wolfish in academic circles, Greek words and “subtractive” logic. she talked about the permeation of commercialization and corporatization in universities. In the final part of the article, she reexamines counter-discourse and critical thinking. She states the positive impact of balancing them correctly, coming up with a suggestion (or friendly challenge) that finding a new academic model might be a better choice.


Comparison of three articles

In terms of content, both Bateson and Hutcheon explain the historical origin of the “competition”, but the direction of the discussion and the conclusion reached are slightly different. Bateson puts forward “Tower of Babel in the Bible”, using myth to explain that human beings can’t cooperate together from the beginning. She moved from myth to human status quo, climate change. Imagine that if humanity does not take a collaborative approach to global problems, the result will undoubtedly be intensified, even at the expense of human extinction. Perhaps this hypothetical result is too exaggerated. But the point I want to draw on is: Is the need for cooperation shown by such subjects for all of humanity equally important in particular societies or smaller groups? Personally, I think the answer is yes, as Bateson said, nothing is absolutely independent. Even though we sometimes think we are doing things independently, in fact, we are still connected with other things in some unnoticed ways. Back to Hutcheon, she coined the Greek word “agon“, a thought pattern that originally referred only to gathering assembly, but gradually became more relevant to fierce competition because of the contention for the prize, and the opposing thinking pattern became more and more obvious in academia. Comparing their conclusions, Bateson illustrates this independence guidance is harmful to people themselves, with older people in the West, for example, always resisting help. Hutcheon focuses on stressing that aggressive attitudes toward competition can lead to academic decline and distortion.

Compared with the three. Bateson and Hutcheon, there is an obvious tendency to reject competition. Bateson encourages people to systematically think, which is similar to Hutcheon’s rethinking of critical thinking. Hutcheon says counter-discourse can also be appropriative and incorporating, therefore, she encourages people to explore a more inclusive way to engage in academic or other discussions. Werron, on the other hand, was more neutral. On the basis of review’s classical’ and modern ‘evolution of the idea of competition, he said that long-term institutionalizations of modern forms of competition in various societal fields should be further studied.

It is worth mentioning that both Hutcheon and Werron talk about the zero-sum game: if one side benefits the other will lose. I feel that it has punctured the cruelty of competition. And it’s the competition that worries me the most because on a certain level, for the weak, competition directly means failure and loss. I think that competition should be more of a win-win thing, but sometimes it’s hard to do a good job of psychological construction. Because even in some non-zero-sum game times people tend to believe what they have lost rather than what they have gained.


Different priorities about competition

When talking about competition, strictly speaking, I don’t think the focus of their article is the same. Hutcheon focuses on the current academic landscape, and elite scholars are adept at attacking others with aggressive thinking in listening. The ultimate guidance derived from it is also limited to academic aspects. Bateson, on the other hand, looks at the problem with the more basic vision of human development, citing nucleus and independence training from childhood to illustrate the importance of interdependence. Werron clearly takes a more realistic vision, looking across the time dimension to the entire society. Especially at the political and economic level. For instance, we can often see on television or in newspapers that presidential candidates attack each other in various ways for a higher percentage of votes. This is a zero-sum game’s most typical performance in political life, which looks like extreme individualism, by discrediting others to make them better. (of course, there’s also a minimal discussion of the social dimension, just a slight mention of phallocentric values) He also focused in part on the discussion of the interaction between competition and society. Therefore, although the main point is competition, the three of them have discussed the academic field, human itself and social life respectively.



Not all things need competition, not all things need complete cooperation. Competition and cooperation are not two things that cannot coexist. Although I’m not keen on competition, I still agree with Hutcheon’s quote, “No competition means no progress.” indeed, competition is the natural law of nature and human society, to a certain extent, does promote class mobility, which is a major driving force for social development. But it has clearly gone too far in some fields, turning the pursuit of knowledge into the pursuit of prestige, privilege, and social status, and as the passion for knowledge waned, People are further away from the free and open academic atmosphere of ancient Greece. Such an academic is regrettable. ( )

The disadvantages of excessive competition are always ignored because people are accustomed to accepting the state of competition, positive or negative. Finally, we are often taught to think critically, but I think that critical thinking sometimes means being skeptical of listening, which seems to contradict an inclusive learning attitude. It seems a bit of sophistry.


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