Aristotle | Pathos, Ethos | Logos


Aristotle lived after both Socrates and Plato, so he didn’t have to deal with the Sophists. As a result, he spent more time developing the art of rhetoric, and less time thinking about the importance of truth in rhetoric. Aristotle even wrote an entire treatise on Rhetoric, The Art of Rhetoric! 

In The Art of Rhetoric, Aristotle writes about the different methods we can persuade others, and he calls these different methods ethos, pathos and logos. You use ethos, pathos, and logos all the time in your persuasive writing!

Ethos is persuasion is based on the credibility of the speaker. Meaning that you will believe what the other person has to say because that person is very knowledgeable, or is a trustworthy credible person. For example, when you ask your parents a question you will, usually, readily accept their answer because they are a credible source for you!

Pathos is persuasion that is based on emotion. Meaning that you will believe what another person tells you because it impacts you emotionally, and your emotions change your judgement. If someone tells you that, “You should give money to animal shelters, because many animals are very sick.” you will feel sorry for the sick animals. So, since you feel sorry for the animals, you might be more inclined to give money to the animal shelter. 

Logos is persuasion that is based on logic. Meaning that you will believe what another person tells you because what they say makes logical sense. Advertisements use logos all the time! When an ad says, “Our hamburgers have 60% more meet than our competitors!” the ad is trying to convince you that you should logically spend your money where you will get the most food.

What is Rhetoric?

Before we get started on learning about rhetoric, let us understand why it is important for you to learn what rhetoric is. You probably use rhetoric everyday! Whenever you want to convince someone else of an idea you believe then you are using rhetoric! For example, if you think that you should be able to stay up late, and you try to convince your parents that you should be able to stay up late, then you are already using rhetoric! In school you typically use rhetoric in your writing. 

Writing with rhetoric is called persuasive writing, and persuasive writing plays a huge role in your academic career. You probably had to write persuasively on the MCAS, and you will have to write persuasively on standardized high school tests. When you write persuasively you are trying to convince your audience to believe whatever position it is that you are arguing for. 

So, now that you know why rhetoric is important, let us learn how to write persuasively! 

Rhetoric can be fun!

Do you know how rhetoric can be used everyday? Some people really love rhetoric! Some people, like lawyers, even practice rhetoric for a living! Check out this cool game that shows you the basics of being a rhetoric-using lawyer.

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