Reading Response: Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon (ASTU)


The following is a reading response that will draw comparisons between three scholarly articles; Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon, The Myths of Independence and Competition by Mary Catherine Bateson and Why do we Believe in Competition by Tobias Werron while primarily focusing on the work of Hutcheon.

Through the readings, one can tell that the stylistic ideas of Bateson and Hutcheon are similar to each other especially in their use of historical references in order to further their own arguments and agenda. This is seen through the repeated use of words originating from Greek by Hutcheon to show the way the meaning of certain words has developed over time when pertaining to competition and Bateson’s use of referencing the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin and comparing it with the works of Herbert Spencer in order to show that cooperation was more important than competition, bringing me to my next point of similarity between Hutcheon and Bateson. Both of them seem to wish to further a point of cooperation and understanding as well as a healthy use of the first-person, as mentioned by Diogenes and as seen through Hutcheon’s wish to implement the logic of both/and rather than either/or just as Bateson suggests that total independence is not a possibility on a biological scale and that cooperation is the key to success. However, this can raise the question as to what extent can cooperation provide a competitive atmosphere?

Werron seemed to garner a different view. Evidently dissimilar to the structure and stylistics of Bateson and Hutcheon, Werron employs an empirical understanding of the word ‘competition’ whereas Hutcheon talks more about the evolution of various words, such as agon, in relation to competition. Similarly, Bateson and Hutcheon seem to employ research in a theoretical manner in order to further an argument as a range of possible solutions for society’s current definition of ‘competition’, which, like the aforementioned word agon, suggests more of an attack than encouraging cooperation. Nevertheless, Werron seems to employ facts in order to promote further research into competition in different areas of society, giving rise to the question as to what extent can competition be generalised in today’s society?

From the viewpoints of Bateson and Hutcheon, as mentioned by Felicity Cheung, competition in its currently understood form and definition seems to suggest a harmful nature to society. However, I would personally disagree with this to an extent. Although the importance of interdependence is highlighted by Bateson and similarly supported by Hutcheon’s wishes to employ a less ‘wolfish’ scholarly community, the importance of the current definition of competition cannot be denied. I would support my claim through a simple saying, ‘it’s a dog eat dog world’. It sounds harsh, however, one cannot deny the results such a mentality has garnered. Over a long period of time, the determination to be better than one’s peers or the want to be respected by them has been a part of human nature, further garnering the nature of competition and motivating individuals to further their own knowledge, sometimes even out of fear. Despite saying this, I believe that some forms of interdependence even in competition are necessary as mentioned by Hutcheon with the example of counter discourse, despite critiquing a work, would not exist without said work, and so, we should learn to appreciate the strengths of someone’s work while also understanding and iterating their weaknesses.

In conclusion, I believe that the although Hutcheon and Bateson wish to promote a more idealistic interpretation of competition in all areas, Werron’s intentions to further research competition in different areas of society could be pivotal as it could help in understanding which areas of society work better with a more cooperative definition of competition or a more fierce, attacking definition of the same.



#rhetoric #Hutcheon #P05 #Bateson #Werron #competition #readingresponse



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