The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (11)


“Personally, I don’t know the history behind the logo.  What’s the problem?”


“B One = The Sophist”

In a 2010 social post about the Chicago Blackhawks a discussion develops over whether or not the team logo/mascot is disrespectful.

In Realist writes: “[D]on’t you think the history and the sport are so disconnected that the point has become irrelevant?  Yes, if there was a team called the Chicago Popes, it would offend many because it is relevant to a very large group of individuals and the team would be raising issues that happen to be contemporary.  Don’t you think the history of Black Hawk has been transformed into. . . a sport logo and nothing more?  The idea has changed. We root for a hockey team with a name and an image. Period.  When did it go from paying tribute to a person to becoming a derogatory remark?  . . . We’re crying over spilled beer and nachos.  . . . Signed, The Sophist.” 

In PhiloDave addresses Realist’s focus on surface detail and the lack of background knowledge (and/or discipline-specific knowledge) about the history and politics surrounding the use of Native-Americans as teams mascots, noting that this is why Realist sees no harm in the practice. 

(In other words, because Realist brings no general/specific knowledge to the discussion, Realist cannot apply critical thinking skills either to the topic or to Realist’s own subjective responses, which appear to be entirely informed by a dominant/hegemonic American culture/pop culture sensibility.  This, not the politics surrounding the logo, is the point here.) 

In Realist appears to take this lesson to heart.  “Well stated. (told ya I needed a course in Logic) [sic]  . . . I’m processing the following statement for now: ‘If that were the standard by which we judge historical changes, then Brown vs. Board would have been merely ‘politically correct,’ not ‘Constitutionally correct.’” 

(In this instance, it is not the lack of general/specific knowledge but the lack of a lived engagement with the social and political legacy surrounding Brown vs. Board that is the point.  In other words – apparently up until this exact Lounge discussion three years ago – Brown vs. Board or the use of Native-Americans as team mascots were dim, abstract considerations for Realist.)

Notice, too, how the critical thinking skills Realist so often champions and claims to possess simply do not manifest themselves.  After initially stating that “Personally, I don’t know the history behind the logo.  What’s the problem?” Realist does not hesitate to make loud and sweeping proclamations, dismiss the logo controversy with typical bluster, then sign off as “The Sophist.” 

Why sign off as “The Sophist”?  

In common usage, the word “sophist” has negative connotations.  It denotes a group of intellectuals and teachers of rhetoric in ancient Greece, but it connotes a person who relies on clever but misleading, fallacious reasoning.  A sophist is one who uses words without any real knowledge of the topic at hand.  (See Plato’s Gorgias as Socrates considered sophistry/rhetoric to be a false practice where the ignorant attempt to teach the ignorant.  Take particular note of Socrates’ distinction between true arts, flattery, and sham.  Also see for a recent exchange concerning rhetoric/irony on the Lounge.) 

In ancient Greece, “rhetors” taught “orators”; in modern times we might say a sophist is a speech teacher.* 

Like Gorgias some 2,500 years earlier, Realist/“The Sophist” appears to give ground before PhiloDave’s logic: “Told ya I needed a course in Logic.”  Subsequently, Realist and PhiloDave have gone on to praise the value of philosophy in what, at times – given Realist’s effusive descriptions of it (see – appears to be a master/apprentice relationship.

However, in actual practice over the past three years, Realist’s writing continues to consist of sophistry.  It is always a focus on some surface detail – a word, a badge – followed by a subjective, often illogical and non-linear, associative response with almost no regard for the use of any substantive interpretive/theoretical framework or outside references to serve as supporting evidence.

(end of B One/Second Sketch to be continued)

*This statement is put forward in the interest of identifying an equivalent term or profession and not to make a sweeping generalization about all speech teachers.  Since Realist signed off as “The Sophist,” the use of “speech teacher” as an equivalent term is specifically directed at this Realist/Sophist pairing.  

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