Reading response- Rhetoric and Competition by Linda Hutcheon

Rhetoric and Competition, written by Linda Hutcheon in 2003, talked about academic agonistics. Compared to Bateson’s and Werron’s reading, they all use the word ‘competition’ and give their statements around this word. However, even if using the same word, there is a huge difference between their main ideas which is affected by their professions. Hutcheon is a Canadian academic working in the fields of literary theory and criticism, opera and Canadian studies, and that’s the reason why she focused on competition in the academy and professional fields. Werron is a professor of Science Studies and Politics Forum Internationale Wissenschaft so he showed his perspective more from a political aspect. About Bateson’s reading, she stressed the importance of interdependence and cooperation, which based on the personal level.

Looking back to Rhetoric and Competition, the first theme is to ask people to learn to think beyond agonistics and to conceive of new ways of working together collaboratively. In other words, when we get used to cooperating with others, there is a reduction in a competition which made high education is becoming wolfish. Why such kind of competition is a cruel one? She mentioned the expansion of market economies which cause the loss of “novitiate culture” and “priesthood presiding over the dissemination of Truth and Beauty”. In the past, these two situations gave people some “normal” and “regulated” thoughts which to some extent, limited people’s ability or chances to judge what is right and what is wrong. Nowadays, with the model of corporate capitalism following by status hierarchy, people seem to have different opinions according to their own classes so the agonistics exist. All those things reflect in education, especially at the higher level, because I suppose there will have more financial support in the upper class, which means probably the argument will be more serious. In Werron’s report, he also emphasized the effect of the economy by citing Adam Smith’s ‘free competition’ to represent competition as a social form in the economic field.

This competition is not only about the discussion or debate about different point of views, but is more likely to become a fight which wins on the surface of words, not the deep meaning. That’s truly right to think critically, and we can consider viewpoints in an opposite way to complete our understanding more comprehensively. However, it’s quite unlike the way that people premise belittling and even destroying of ideas which are in the opposition. Most of the time when we have a precondition, it’s hard for us to become objective. We are not going to find out a better solution or view of this question, and we are going to try our best to prove the person who comes up with this idea is wrong.

There is a word “agon”, which originates from the meaning of gathering, but now connects to fierce competition. From the examples of aggression by different disciplinary and by gender, can we assume that people will unconsciously add enmity enter the argument because of the inherent difference?

The notion of “counter-discourse” can be a better point when we in the “competition” causing by differences. Counter-discourses don’t as a contrary role of discourses, their main tasks are to complement the drawbacks of discourses. Therefore the relationship between discourses and counter-discourses is close, and they do not belong to each other, but they are still interdependent. It can decrease the situation that people are in the competition that prefers to condemn and scorn others, because they need to put forward the opposition on the basis of the original point, not disagreeing separately.

Finally, the author gave the main idea that people need to discover a new model to replace the old pattern for academic thinking, writing and even acting, and also called on taking actions to change the way which competition is going now, avoiding a more wolfish phenomenon in the academic field. As can be seen in Werron’s article, he identified the particular type of competition as an institutionalized modern imaginary without judgement and expand a sociological perspective on this kind of competition. For Hutcheon, she told the audience which one is a good model and people need to follow it, but there is no direct true or false in Werron’s which specified competition into a detailed dimension.

Both of two articles use a lot of references to make their declaration credible, and the resources which they showed can help people understand their topics or arguments precisely. Nevertheless, the written structures of them are dissimilar. As a research article, Werron’s has a super clear logical form. There is a brief summary of the whole passage at the beginning, and ideas are expressed in terms of the content in the summary, so people can easily find distinct point of views by a subtitle in each paragraph.

Overall, it is not wise to be complicitous or much simple when people are under the “competition” which likes a battle within various arguments. The only thing people need to remember is to compete for objective ideas, not for the people who you disagree with, and construct personal perspectives respectively.

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