Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Here are some tricks of the trade - A.K.A. Rhetorical Devices - you can use when trying to bring readers around to your point of view. And none of them involve dangling a watch in front of their eyes or asking them to stare into a spinning, spiraling wheel. For more help, check out our other resources!

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Transcript

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persuading? Thanks to Aristotle, the great thinker from

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ancient Greece...

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...we have three such tricks that will often get the job done.

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They're not foolproof. In other words, they won't usually get you out of mowing the lawn

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or doing the dishes...

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...but if you're writing an argument essay and want a reader to see, understand and agree

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with your point...

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...these tricks are the bee's knees. Collectively, they are referred to as rhetorical

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devices.

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You want to know what they are?

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Sorry... rhetorical question.

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The three devices are called ethos, pathos and logos.

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Once you've mastered these tools, you'll be able to write a stellar essay...

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...win political debates...

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...and sell just about anything on late-night television.

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Let's start with ethos. Ethos means moral character.

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When the speaker uses ethos, he's trying to persuade his audience by convincing them that

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he's a good guy. So if you pin someone up against a wall and

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demand that they prefer Coke to Pepsi...

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...it's probably not the most effective means of persuasion.

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But if that same person gets the sense that you're a decent human being...

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...who just wants to discuss the subject in a calm manner...

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...he may be more willing to see another side of the issue.

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But moral character alone isn't going to get 'er done.

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Enter... pathos.

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Pathos means emotion. As a rhetorical device, pathos gets us to stop thinking and start

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feeling.

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Something political pundits seem to have down to a science.

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Ugh... feelings? Does this mean we have to get all lovey-dovey and mushy-wushy?

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Well... no. But sometimes appealing to someone's softer side can do the trick.

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If you're trying to convince a reader that crude oil is bad for the environment...

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...don't just cite figures and fill up the pages with a bunch of charts and graphs.

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Talk about the animals that are affected... and often killed... when there's a spill.

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It will only help your case if you can get your reader to cry over spilt oil.

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And then there's the third and final rhetorical device... logos.

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Logos means reason. Here is where all those aforementioned charts,

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graphs and figures come into play.

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But it's also about explaining to your reader, in clear and concise terms...

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...why they should logically agree with your point of view.

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It's about providing concrete evidence to support your claims.

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If you can make them feel stupid for daring to think differently, all the better.

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But watch the name-calling. So when writing an argument essay, don't set

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pen to paper without the big three in your corner...

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...Ethos, meaning moral character...

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...Pathos, meaning emotion...

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...and logos, meaning reason. You may also want to use Oreos...

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...which won't add anything

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to your argument, but they sure are delicious.