opposite of the devil's advocate

Discussion in 'English Only' started by babybackribs, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. babybackribs Senior Member

    Hello all,
    I was just reading a book that suggests different business personas and how to bring them alive in yourself.
    A main point of the book is that we have to get rid of our Devil's Advocate persona--that voice which naysays new ideas, concepts, etc.
    Would there be a word to describe the opposite of the Devil's Advocate? I can't think think of any phrase that is regularly used.
    Any thoughts?
    Many thanks, bbr
  2. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
  3. babybackribs Senior Member

    The book is The Ten Faces of Innovation.
    I don't need the phrase in the specific context of this book, however.
    Just general thoughts about what the opposite may be, e.g., A mentor, a mediator, etc.
    I'm wondering if there is an already established phrase that people use--either in the business world or elsewhere.
  4. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    First of all a "devil's advocate" (don't capitalize it) is not a naysayer, per se, as you suggest by referencing the book, which appears to be misleading. (context is always important)

    Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 Oxford University Press:
    devil's advocate
    • 1 a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.
    So, what you appear to be looking for is a phrase for a person who expresses a supporting opinion (in which he/she does not necessarily believe) in order to avoid testing the strength of an argument.

    I cannot think of any such phrase or idiom.
  5. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    English (American)

    Toady? Yes-man?
  6. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    The term "devil's advocate" has it origin in the former process of canonizing saints used by the Catholic Church. Formerly, it was conducted almost as an adversarial process: the Promoter of the Cause would present reasons why this or that person should be canonized, while the Promoter of the Faith tried to find flaws in the argument, especially by finding fault with the person whose canonization was being proposed. Because of this, the Promoter of the Faith received the popular name "advocatus diaboli" ("the devil's advocate", in the sense of the devil's lawyer), while the Promoter of the Cause had the popular name "advocatus Dei", or God's advocate.

    The office of the Promoter of the Faith no longer exists, but the nickname lives on. If you are looking for a term for his opposite number, it would be the nickname for the Promoter of the Cause: God's advocate.
  7. Kevin Beach

    Kevin Beach Senior Member

    Following on from what GreenWhiteBlue has said, the implication behind the term "devil's advocate" was that the prelate appointed by the Vatican to "disprove" the candidate's sanctity did not necessarily believe in what he trying to do. His role was to examine everything cynically but to arrive at an honest conclusion based on what he discovered. In a sense, he was doing the job of an investigative journalist trying to uncover sleaze.

    In the context quoted by babybackribs, I think what is really meant by "devil's advocate" is the little demon that is said to live in all of us, trying to feed us negative thoughts even though they're false or unjustified. The opposite is the positive attitude that takes us forward in life. If you want to personify that attitude with the same sort of imagery as devil's advocate, you could call it something like the adventurous angel. There's no fixed term though. It's a matter of personal choice how far you go in matching the original metaphor.
  8. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    For what it is worth, I have never heard of "God's Advocate" before. There might be an obvious reason for that, but I would not use it in your situation, nor outside the context of religion. If I heard someone say it, it would make me wonder a little about it. I tend to agree with SDGraham, that there is no opposite to the devil's advocate as an idiom or set saying. In discussions you will hear someone say, "Let me play the devil's advocate hear and bring up an opposing view", though he may not espouse any such view himself. And you won't hear someone say "let me play the 'opposite' to the devil's advovate".
  9. carping demon New Member

    Southern California
    American English
    Wouldn't the opposite of "devil's advocate" simply be "advocate"?
  10. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    New York
    USA - English
    No. As noted above, the term "advocate" is used here in the sense of "lawyer" or "attorney".
  11. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    Someone who naysays new ideas, concepts, etc. is conservative or a Luddite (BE)
  12. carping demon New Member

    Southern California
    American English
    GreenWhiteBlue, I don't mean to be argumentative, but the first definition of "advocate" in the OED is: "One whose profession it is to plead the cause of anyone in a court of justice." That is clearly the position of a "Promoter of the Cause" and, hence, the opposite of the "advocatus diaboli."
  13. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Well, that's the way I feel about it.

    In the Bible it says in 1 John 2:1 "....And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" (just says advocate)

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