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Ethos, Logos, Pathos as Basic Concepts of Classical Rhetoric

The simple definition of classical rhetoric lies in the art of persuasion. This principle can be realized through the following basic general concepts of rhetoric: ethos, logos, pathos, and topos. Today, these concepts are still popular, especially among students who in their creative writing need to persuade listeners in certain arguments they present.

Aristotle was one of the first people who dedicated the whole book to the methods and principles of the rhetoric. The book is called «Rhetoric». According to the Greek researcher, rhetoric, as dialectic, «has little to do with one particular area: it embraces all spheres of people’s life». Rhetoric, apprehended in this sense, is used by all and everywhere: it is equally necessary in both, cases relating to everyday needs of the individual, and the affairs of state importance. Understanding the rhetoric in this way, Aristotle defines it as the ability to find possible ways of persuasion.

According to the classification of the famous ancient philosopher, which he offered in the IV century BC, all our arguments can be divided into three groups: pathos, logos, and ethos. The criterion for this division is the different beginning of man: sensual, mental, and moral, which he uses to persuade listeners. Let's consider the meaning of each of these categories separately in more details.

The Meaning of Logos

Logos (in Greek is a «word», «thought», «sense», «concept», «intention») is a term of ancient Greek philosophy, which means both «word» and «concept». Logos is the term used in order to name verbal means needed to implement speech speaker design, as well as for the understanding of speech by listeners. If you try to ignore the rest of the components of the speech, logos can be considered a text written on paper and containing only a logical chain of author’s reasoning.

Logos as the main category of classical rhetoric is designed to represent thought and word as a whole, which practically means: the word has a meaning, opinion, and it must come from the mind, and appeal to it. The founder p rhetorical science – Aristotle – saw the logos, i.e., rhetoric as a science that has two major means of convincing:

  • Syllogism (a conclusion from general to specific).
  • Enthymeme (a shortcut syllogism, in which the procedure of consideration and conclusion is not fully shown, instead there should be a ready-made opinion).

The trope of enthymeme is a trope. And a trope from the logic point of view is an abbreviated syllogism.

In today's rhetoric, consistency is one of the main features of speech and text. It is realized through the choice of the language presentation of sequence and reasoning, consistency of theses, and speech provisions.

The concept of logos implied means of persuasion that operate to reason. For example, writing a personal essay, you should appeal to logic and reason when you rely upon your listeners’ intelligence and when you offer credible evidence in order to support your argument. This evidence includes:

  • Examples.
    Examples include circumstances or events that your listeners can relate to their life.
  • Facts.
    The facts are very valuable as they are undisputed and demonstrate the truth.
  • Precedents.
    Specific examples (personal and historical) taken from the past.
  • Authority.
    The authority must be actual, not outdated, and it must be qualified to judge the topic.
  • Inductive/Deductive.
    Deductive reasoning is when you select apart the evidence to get to conclusions. Inductive reasoning is when you add logical pieces to the evidence in order to get to the conclusions.

The Meaning of Ethos

In ancient philosophy, ethos (in Greek – «character») meant habits, customs, characters, and temperaments. Ethos, as a more stable moral reasoning element, is often contrasted with pathos, which is a temporary spiritual experience. Aristotle showed ethos as a way of presenting human character through the style of his speech and purposefulness, as the capital indication of human activity. These conditions relate to the time, place, and time terms of the speech, and this is determined by the content of the speech: the theme, the components of the speech plan, and individual words. The audience might not be able to accept an inappropriate speech even if there strong arguments (logos). The main feature of the relevance is the theme of the speech on conditions that the time, place, and date of the speech are agreed between the participants of the communication (speech, dispute, etc.).

The concept of ethos is correlated with the means of persuasion that appeal to the norms of human behavior (including verbal behavior). In this sense, the speaker, and in particular, according to Aristotle, must «be recognized» by the listeners as «a deserving man», both in the broad and narrow sense of the expression (worth to speak, worthy to be listened). It has been argued that personal ethical qualities of the speaker determine all the content of his message, and that the listeners always have the opportunity to form an idea about what the speaker's ethos is. In many ways, depending on this, they evaluated the speaker’s message.

One of the tales by Danish writer and playwright L. Holberg will help better understand the effect of the ethos on the rating of the message. The tale tells about the contest in eloquence between the Stork and the Hawk. The contest is won by Stork. The speeches they prepared are equally good, but the Judge, noting it says they can’t be judged as equally good, because one speech was made by an innocent stork, and the other one was made by a carnivorous bird.

Using ethos in your apa paper involves persuading your listeners that you are intelligent and can be trusted. Writers can’t just say to their audience: «I’m good and smart and you can trust me». Perhaps, it is the most difficult appeal to establish. You must prove your arguments to be true by shoowing that you understand what you are arguing because you are giving: personal experience or know someone who has personal experience. You are using the following support in order to prove your argument:

  • Through actual and timely research;
  • Through extensive research;
  • Through recognized authorities in the area (this will help prevent looking your appeal too personal).

To prove your argument, you need to use an appropriate writing style:

  • By mostly using the third person. You can use first person only when you are providing a specific personal experience.
  • By means of strong and professional words that have appropriate connotations. Make sure not to sound overly emotional.

Also, remember to treat your listeners with respect by:

  • Establishing some conjoint framework for both sides of the argument by indicating the recognition that your opinion and the opinion of the adverse side agree on at least one point of view. This is very important in establishing your ethos and ability to treat the topic fairly.
  • Careful not to overdo this, focus on the side you are supporting.

The Meaning of Pathos

Pathos is rhetoric’s entity that coincides with the style, manner or mode of expression of feelings, which is characterized by emotional elevation and enthusiasm. Pathos is usually describes all the elements of the argument that have an emotional impact on the audience.

The concept of pathos is correlated with the means of persuasion that appeals to the senses.

The point of pathos lies in the fact that the speaker should influence on the emotions of listeners, which might affect their opinion. The question facing the speaker in this regard is as follows: should the author himself experience the emotions he wants to evoke listeners to feel? And, if so, does the author have the right to «show» these feelings of the audience?

Rhetoric taught to be sincere, but one needed to restrain the pathos and not put it on display. Rhetorically, an educated speaker should have been able to bring the desired feelings in the listeners without being theatrical. The complexity of this understanding led to a rather amusing destiny of the word «pathos»: on the one hand, it later became understood as affectation and grandiloquence, on the other hand it was understood as a special solemnity in critical situations.

The application of pathos in your thesis theme can be very effective if it is not over diligent, especially if the topic of your project is very emotional. The listeners have emotions, as well as intellect, so your argument must seek the ways to engage the listeners emotionally. However, using it is not effective to use the emotional appeal alone. It is better to use it in the conjunction with logical and ethical appeals.

The best way to incorporate pathos appeals is to use the words that carry appropriate connotations.

The meaning of Topos

In addition to ethos, logos, pathos there is also topos – a rhetorical concept, which means common spaces in the speech. They include the most common time-spatial language situations and descriptions of situations that are easy to remember and that almost the same at any speaker (my family, at the store, on the bus, etc.). Ancient rhetoric liked topos and developed titles for them that could be easily adapted to similar situations.

The original thing in the speech is what lies beyond the topos, or when topos has some unusual expression. However, you must remember that there is a certain proportionality between topos and originality in speech, and that the presence of topos emphasize the beauty and appropriateness of original expressions.

In everyday life we communicate within topos of different models: theater, visitors, illness, work, study – all of these give us a lot of familiar situations in which there is a similar strategy of constructing texts. However each of us once get into the situation of an unknown to us verbal behavior where there are little familiar topos and there are more unknown places we need to recreates and fill in with our intelligence and linguistic taste.

How to Apply These Methods of Reasoning in Life?

Of course, this classification of Aristotle's arguments largely has theoretical synthesis. However, it still allows drawing a number of conclusions that could be useful to a speaker in practice:

First, the ancient Greeks knew that the word (logos) in the argument often plays the most important role. You can also convince the public and your opponent in a dispute by using moral and emotional appeals.

Secondly, Aristotle shows the importance of using all the elements of the argument together. In order for your speech to be harmonious and credible, it should contain all the necessary elements:

  • moral (right and proper choice of the theme, arguments, methods of talking to the audience and the opponent);
  • logic (speech plan, completeness of the content, verbal techniques, and sophistry);
  • emotional (intonation, facial expressions, gestures, calls, exclamations).

Thirdly, ethos, logos, pathos quite clearly share the principles of reasoning in the rhetoric so the speaker understands what he needs to learn and what skills need to be trained.

Proper application of such categories as ethos, logos, pathos suggests that the speech or argument throughout its length is continuously monitored by all three aspects. Therefore, it is possible to claim that rhetoric actually put in the structure of the speech such criteria as the righteousness of logos, the candour of ethos, and relevance of verbal behavior – pathos.

More information on the ethos, logos, pathos you can find on our service, where you have a possibility to order your educational project, such as term papers, dissertations, diplomas, lab reports, etc. Also, on our service you can use essay editing services by hiring one of the writers.

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