Main Idea of The Text
The reading discusses the idea of rhetoric as a means of persuasion. Aristotle (1954) argues effective persuasion depends on the successful use of ethos, logos, and pathos. In other words, persuasion depends on the speaker’s character, effective appeal to the audience’s emotions, and appeal to the reason or logical argumentation of the speaker. In detail, ethos is concerned with the speaker’s expression of thought. The expression is dependent on the character, manner, dress, eloquence, tone, and style. The audience is likely to be persuaded by the speech if the person is likable and worthy of respect. It is similar to the appeal of authority which improves the credibility of expressed ideas. The key to appealing to emotion or pathos is the comprehension of others’ needs and values. It is possible to enhance persuasion through emotional instigation, which can be unification through depreciation of common enemy or revelation of the happiness and sympathy within the listener. Finally, logos is purely analytical and logical consistency of the speaker, the creation of solid arguments supported by evidence asserts the reality of the arguments expressed.
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The Structure of Rhetoric
The application of ethos, logos and pathos is discussed within the field of rhetoric. Aristotle (1954) defines rhetoric as the observation of main figures of argumentation within any given possibility. It is different from the judgment of truth seen in specific fields such as medicine which can provide objective truth about healthy and unhealthy diets. Rhetoric does not have an affiliation with any specific science. It is more of a general term that transcribes the means of persuasion. It corresponds to the art of dialectic, which investigates the truth of opinions.
Enthymemes and examples
The notion of rhetoric and persuasion is built upon enthymemes that can be defined as syllogism or premises that define the argument. The difference between exemplification and enthymemes lies within the field of application. In rhetoric, Aristotle (1954) defines enthymemes as the condition of the truthfulness of the proposition, which is distinct from the provided truthful propositions. Consequently, the example would be a proof of proposition which is based on the number of similar instances.
The contradiction that can be traced within the reading is the exclusion and inclusion of emotions as the essential core of rhetoric. Nevertheless, this seeming contradiction was disproven as a false premise by the research of Jamie Dow (Gottlieb, 2017), who argued that Aristotle made the distinction between the emotions and rhetorical devices that aimed at guiding these emotions. The distinction lies within the rhetorical power of arousal. Pathos enhances the power of the speaker’s position while the emotions independent from such a relationship are to be excluded from the art of rhetoric.
Ethos, Logos, and Pathos Today
The notions of ethos, pathos, and logos are seen in various fields such as business and politics. Numerous marketing devices combine the basics of Aristotle’s rhetoric with psychological biases to construct powerful marketing strategies. Aristotle provides the application of rhetoric in the field of politics and lawmaking. They are suggesting the importance of rhetoric as a device to improve the functioning of individual cases seen within trials while using laws as guiding manuals for general application. Rhetoric is the essence of writing in the academic field and contributes to the effective transmission of ideas to paper.
From my perspective, rhetoric is best seen within the crowdfunding campaigns where the company is supposed to appeal to a great audience and effectively use ethos, pathos, and logos. However, the effectiveness of emotional appeal in some of such cases may prevail and cause great damages. The launch of the company Theranos could be considered such an instance. Theranos was founded under the revolutionary idea which came to be falsified (Thomas, 2021). The emotional appeal of rapid and portable blood testing devices was overwhelming to the point that the validity of logos was not thoroughly questioned. Theranos caused colossal damages of 700-million-dollar for investors (Thomas, 2021). Thus, the power of rhetoric suggested by Aristotle may be an undeniable truth.
Aristotle. (1954). Rhetoric. (Roberts, W. R., Bywater, I., Solmsen, F, Trans.) Modern Library.
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Gottlieb, P. (2017). Passions and Persuasion in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, written by Jamie Dow. Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, 34(1), 164-167. Web.
Thomas, D. (2021). Theranos scandal: Who is Elizabeth Holmes and why is she on trial? BBC News. Web.