The Art of Rhetoric:
Learning How to Use the Three Main Rhetorical Styles
Rhetoric (n) -
the art of speaking or writing effectively (Webster's Definition).
According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available
means of persuasion." He described three main forms of rhetoric:
Ethos, Logos, and
The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid,
or more valid than someone else's. The
Greek philosopher Aristotle
divided the means
of persuasion, appeals, into three categories—
Ethos, Pathos, Logos.
, means convincing by the character of the author.
We tend to believe people whom we respect. One of the central problems of
argumentation is to project an impression to the reader that you are someone worth
listening to, in other words making yourself as author into an authority on the subject of
the paper, as well as someone who is likable and worthy of respect.
means persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions or deeply
held beliefs. We can look at texts ranging from classic essays to contemporary
advertisements to see how pathos, emotional appeals, are used to persuade. Language
choice affects the audience's emotional response, and emotional appeal can effectively be
used to enhance an argument.
means persuading by the use of reasoning. This will be the most
important technique we will study, and Aristotle's favorite. We'll look at deductive and
inductive reasoning, and discuss what makes an effective, persuasive reason to back up
your claims. Giving reasons is the heart of argumentation, and cannot be emphasized
enough. We'll study the types of support you can use to substantiate your thesis, and look
at some of the common logical fallacies, in order to avoid them in your writing.
Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
(Greek for 'word') refers to the internal consistency of the message--the clarity of
the claim, the logic of its reasons, and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. The
impact of logos on an audience is sometimes called the argument's logical appeal.
(Greek for 'character') refers to the trustworthiness or credibility of the writer or
speaker. Ethos is often conveyed through tone and style of the message and through the
way the writer or speaker refers to differing views. It can also be affected by the writer's
reputation as it exists independently from the message—his or her expertise in the field,
his or her previous record or integrity, and so forth. The impact of ethos is often called
the argument's 'ethical appeal' or the 'appeal from credibility.'
(Greek for 'suffering' or 'experience') is often associated with emotional appeal.
But a better equivalent might be 'appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination.'