Good The Art Of Rhetoric Essay Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Rhetoric, Audience, Public Relations, Supreme Court, Appeal, Speaker, Ethos, Credibility

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/14

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The art of persuasion, or rhetoric, has always been a topic of great interest and study by many throughout history. Its origins basically begin with Aristotle, around the fourth century B.C.E., as he wrote down and described the basic rhetorical tools in use. Rhetoric’s importance cannot be denied in a world where everyone tries to make their case and interpret the facts. For this reason, rhetoric is something that should be studied in detail in order to better analyze what is going on in speeches and any attempt to persuade. Most experts agree that rhetoric has three main aspects: appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. These three tools are usually all present when trying to persuade a particular audience.
Every successful rhetorical appeal will usually include some form of ethical appeal (ethos). Ethos is simply an appeal to the speaker’s credibility about a certain topic. In order to successfully persuade an audience, the speaker must show that they are knowledgeable in what they are saying, and must convince the audience of this fact (“An Introduction to Rhetoric”). A speaker could make a fine persuasive case about which computer to buy, and even make correct logical deductions and emotional appeals. However, if that person has never used a computer before, and knows nothing about the basic components, the speech will most likely be unsuccessful. The key to persuading any audience should start with establishing credibility with the audience. Once this is successful, the audience will be more receptive to the other forms of rhetorical appeals.
After establishing the speaker’s ethos, the next step to persuade is usually to make a logical case for the position taken. This is “logos.” The rhetorical appeal of logos is all the facts, statistics, and basic reasoning used to support a position. It is essentially the heart of the argument of persuasion. Any sort of data gathered on the topic at hand should be presented to help persuade the audience, and a lack of evidence will likely lead to a lack of ability to successfully persuade the audience. It should be noted that failure to make a logical case, or have the facts disproven, also can affect the ethos or credibility of the speaker. Therefore, these elements are dependent upon each other, as good facts do not necessarily immediately establish credibility, just as bad facts will hurt an already established credibility. Successful use of both logos and ethos are needed in order to effectively persuade an audience (“An Introduction to Rhetoric”).
Finally, the last common rhetorical appeal is pathos, or the emotional appeal. This is when the speaker appeals to the audience’s interests, identity, which will likely provoke some emotional response. For this type of rhetoric, the speaker must be knowledgeable about the audience in general, and be able to use words that resonate with them, sparking emotion. The power of emotions can be the strongest type of persuasion, so pathos should not be overlooked (“A General Summary of Aristotle’s Appeals”). A speaker could have perfect credibility with the audience, make a great logical argument, with the correct facts, and still not persuade an audience. A speaker must attempt to get the audience to feel something, because then they will be more likely to act on whatever activity the speaker is trying to persuade.
Perhaps the best example of pathos occurs in politics, where rhetorical tools are always used to attempt to get the audience on the side of the speaker. All political campaigns, both speeches and commercials, are loaded with emotional pleas. President Obama’s 2008 “hope and change” campaign tried to get the audience (in this case the country) to believe he was different than most politicians and he would stop the corruption in Washington. He was appealing to the countries distrust in the current political system, and appealed to their emotions to get a vote. Of course, Obama also had to establish his credibility, which he did by writing a book shortly before he ran, and was a US Senator from Illinois. He also needed feasible policy ideas that the country would like (Walsh). So, Obama proposed policies including affordable health care and immigration reform. Therefore, he also had a logical appeal to make to the country. However, the most commonly remembered aspect of all Obama’s campaign speeches and commercials were that of “hope and change.” This slogan was the emotional appeal Obama ran and eventually won on, so the appeal to pathos is an extremely powerful tool.
In conclusion, the three common rhetorical tools Aristotle discovered way back in the fourth century B.C.E. are still used today. Ethos, logos, and pathos are all extremely relevant to the art of rhetoric and persuasion, and are all intertwined. Establishing credibility is the first step, but a logical case is also needed in order to stand any chance at persuasion. However, those two alone cannot completely do it together. The emotional response, usually placed at the end of a speech, is there to elicit a reaction that gets the audience on the side of the speaker. Together and when used correctly, rhetorical appeals are powerful tools of persuasion.

Works Cited

"A General Summary of Aristotle's Appeals." Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html>.
Olson, Annie. "Introduction to Rhetoric." 1 May 2006. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <http://www.letu.edu/people/annieolson/class/intro.html>.
Walsh, Kenneth. "Obama Explains His Campaign Strategy." U.S.News & World Report, 15 Feb. 2008. Web. 26 Jan. 2015. <http://www.usnews.com/news/campaign-2008/articles/2008/02/15/obama-explains-his-campaign-strategy>.

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