Richard Ogle

Richard Ogle is a veteran writer, educator and consultant, and the author of Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas (Harvard Business School Press). His current consulting activities focus on breakthrough creativity in entrepreneurial organizations. Born and raised in England, he came to the United States in 1968 on a Fulbright Travel Fellowship, and was awarded a four-year Regents Fellowship at UCLA. He completed his PhD in linguistics there in 1974. He currently lives in Camden, Maine.

About this Blog

The aim of this blog is to focus attention on how we think about current politics. Drinking from the firehose of facts, “alternative” facts, news, “fake” news, opinions (substantiated or not), and plain old-fashioned lies that streams at us daily, we have all too little time or inclination to mentally step back and reflect on what is really being said. Too often we fail to ask of what we read or hear: for what purpose was this written or said, how grounded is it, what alternatives might be conceived or argued for, and especially, what sense does it make in the larger view of things. It’s just this state of affairs this blog will endeavor to alter.

This doesn’t mean that every post will be some kind of philosophy lesson. Far from it. We certainly need to dive down into the details of the day’s or week’s happenings before we can begin the hard work of making some sense of it all in a way that goes beyond the normal back-and-forth of opinion. My hope is that over time, the reader will begin to acquire a more powerful set of tools, grounded in a deeper set of questions and methods of analysis, that will give her or him a greater capacity to evaluate information, to formulate insightful views based on sound and sane argument, and most important of all to start creating a radically more hopeful vision of the future than the distinctly dispiriting one we at present appear to be faced with.

A Note on the Eleatic Stranger

The mysterious figure of the Eleatic Stranger first appears in Plato’s late dialogue Sophist. Socrates, invariably the lead interlocutor in previous dialogues, is here replaced by a figure from Elea, birthplace of Parmenides and the highly rigorous mode of metaphysical argument the Eleatics became known for. Plato’s aim appears to be to showcase a new, more logical form of dialectic (argument) that he wishes to demonstrate as being greatly superior to the loose, often false arguments typically used by the Sophists (the rhetorical pundits of the day). Plato appears to be very pleased with his new mode of doing philosophy, contrasting the characteristically misleading arguments employed by the sophist, who “finds pleasure in dragging words about,” with the elegant new process of philosophical analysis and argument the Eleatic Stranger has just invented. This, Plato triumphantly declares, constitutes a method that is “both difficult and beautiful.” (See Sophist 259c, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0172%3Atext%3DSoph.%3Asection%3D259c)