Rhetoric? RHETORIC?
Looking at pathos & ethos & logos, oh my!


Many a month ago, I brought up the word “rhetoric.” “Rhetoric” is simply the art of speaking or writing effectively, and by “effectively” I mean the speaker/writer’s ability to affect her audience in the way she intended. This boils down to many choices the speaker/writer makes in her language. “Yolk” yellow will elicit a different response from the audience than “baby chick” yellow. “The war against Iraq” and “The war against evil” also have very different effects. A good speaker/writer knows that words and phrasing are powerful and she’ll use them to her advantage. (By the way, anyone notice the pronoun choices I made?)

Well, guess what? We’re about to learn how to argue effectively in our own writing.

Many a century ago, there was a famous philosopher and scholar named Aristotle who wrote about three kinds of rhetorical styles. These rhetorical styles, pathos, ethos, and logos are useful when thinking about argument because all three deal with how the audience perceives the speaker/writer and how believable s/he is.

Since we are about to embark on a study of argumentative writing (and later the credibility of information sources), I thought it might be useful to get an understanding of each of these styles into our heads.





For more information about these terms, visit: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/group4/

Or, if you're more ambitious, go to the source of Aristotle's thinking at: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~honeyl/Rhetoric/