Fortunately, we are going to look closely at each of these three ideas and see if they are really as effective as they are said to be. Aristotle used the term mythos to refer to the plot or story structure of Greek tragedies, i.e., how a playwright ordered the events of the story to affect the audience. Today, mythos is most often discussed as a literary or poetic term rather than a rhetorical one. However, mythos may rarely be referred to as the “appeal to culture” or the “appeal to myth” if it is treated as an additional mode of persuasion. According to this viewpoint, a speaker/writer is using mythos if they try to persuade an audience using shared cultural customs or societal values.
Derived from the Greek word for “character,” ethos is a rhetorical device that is used to establish the speaker’s credibility or appeal to the audience’s sense of ethical responsibility. Ethos, an ancient Greek word meaning “character,” is a rhetorical or written technique that appeals to an audience or reader’s ethics. Authors achieve ethos in their writing by demonstrating that they are a trustworthy source of accurate information. Ethos, pathos, and logos can all be employed to deliver compelling and persuasive arguments or to win over an audience. Let’s look at a variety of examples to see how different speakers and authors have turned to these modes of persuasion over the years.
In this speech, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stresses the qualities and values he shares with the American public in order to establish ethos and present himself as more relatable to his audience. By showing that you and the other side agree on at least one point—or, by conceding to one of the opposition’s valid points—you will demonstrate to audiences that you are both fair and rational, which makes you trustworthy. When used properly, an appeal to ethos can make your persuasive, creative, and expository writing more effective and interesting to readers. Unlike the other modes of persuasion, kairos relates to the context of a speech and how the appropriateness (or not) of a setting affects how effective a speaker is. Once again, King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a great example of the use of kairos. This speech was delivered at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
They clearly hope to use logos to try to convince an audience to agree with them. In Greek, pathos literally translates to “suffering, experience, or sensation.” The word pathos is related to the words pathetic, sympathy, and empathy, https://cryptolisting.org/ which all have to do with emotions or emotional connections. Aristotle used the word pathos to refer to the emotional impact that an argument had on an audience; this usage is still mainly how pathos is used in rhetoric today.
On the flip side, an audience is less likely to support an argument that is flawed or entirely wrong. Going further, a speaker that presents a lot of supporting evidence and data to the audience is likely to come across as knowledgeable and someone to be listened to, which earns bonus points in ethos as well. Authors are not usually trying to directly influence their audience waht is ethos in the way politicians or advertisers are. In doing so, the author gives insight into characters’ perceptions of one another, their values, and their motives. An ad hominem argument is a specific type of argument which involves attacking someone else’s character or ethos, rather than attacking that person’s position or point of view on the subject being discussed.
For example, a military officer proudly wearing their uniform bedecked with medals will go a long way to establishing ethos without them saying a single word. Through extensive, up-to-date research—or by bringing in expert support—you can establish greater credibility for your argument. This is also where logos and ethos can work hand in hand to create not only a logical, but believable, point. According to Nedra Reynolds, “ethos, like postmodern subjectivity, shifts and changes over time, across texts, and around competing spaces” (336). However, Reynolds additionally discusses how one might clarify the meaning of ethos within rhetoric as expressing inherently communal roots. This stands in direct opposition to what she describes as the claim “that ethos can be faked or ‘manipulated'” because individuals would be formed by the values of their culture and not the other way around (336).
Ad hominem attacks usually have the goal of swaying an audience away from an opponent’s views and towards one’s own by degrading the audience’s perception of the opponent’s character. For instance, if one politician attacks another as being “elite,” the attacker may be seeking to make voters question whether the other politician is trustworthy or actually has the public’s interest at heart. But the first politician is not in any way attacking their opponent’s positions on matters of policy. There are three modes of persuasion—ethos, pathos, and logos—that are frequently used to appeal to audiences when making an argument.
Ethos, along with logos and pathos, is one of the three “modes of persuasion” in rhetoric (the art of effective speaking or writing). Ethos is an argument that appeals to the audience by emphasizing the speaker’s credibility and authority. As a mode of persuasion and rhetorical appeal, logos is often referred to as “the appeal to reason.” If a speaker or author is relying on logos, they are typically reciting facts or providing data and statistics that support their argument.
Acknowledging her encounters with women from various parts of the world is particularly relevant to the speech’s ethical appeal because it was delivered at an international conference. Although appealing to a reader’s ethos sets you up as an authoritative source of information, relying on it exclusively can make your message seem biased or dismissive. While Aristotle clearly valued an argument based on reason very highly, we know that logos alone doesn’t always effectively persuade an audience. In your own life, you have likely seen a rational, correct speaker lose an argument to a charismatic, authoritative speaker who may not have the facts right. Ethos is important in rhetoric because it often influences the opinion or mood of the audience.
Use of concrete examples to support your written argument and additional authoritative third-party sources also lends phronesis to your work. Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is recognizable and noteworthy for many reasons, including the rhetorical device he employs. Here, Steve Jobs is providing his background–via humblebrag– of being a major figure in several different highly successful tech companies. Jobs is using ethos to provide substance to his words and make it clear to the audience that he knows what he is talking about and they should listen to him.
Appealing to an audience’s kairos means that in addition to a balance of all three modes mentioned above, you’re using current circumstances and timeliness—such as an event, trend, or political movement, to bolster your argument. Throughout the speech, King repeatedly uses American symbols and American history (mythos) to argue that all Americans should be outraged that Black Americans have been denied freedom and civil rights. I used to see him cheered at meetings and in the streets by crowds of workingmen way back in those aristocratic Victorian days when as Disraeli said “the world was for the few, and for the very few.” So we started a new business called Bain Capital…That business we started with 10 people has now grown into a great American success story. An office supply company called Staples – where I’m pleased to see the Obama campaign has been shopping; The Sports Authority, which became a favorite of my sons.
In consequence I’m inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he told me, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’…
In a manner of speaking, logos does away with all of the bells and whistles of ethos and pathos and cuts to the chase by trying to present a rational argument. By effectively using the three modes of persuasion with a large supply of rhetorical devices, a speaker or writer can become a master of rhetoric and win nearly any argument or win over any audience. Before they can do that, though, they must know exactly what ethos, pathos, and logos mean.
In this scene, Marc Antony is trying to win over the Roman people, so Shakespeare has Antony rely on ethos. Antony is establishing himself as both a person of authority in Rome (having the power to offer Caesar a crown) and an expert on Caesar’s true character (Antony was Caesar’s close friend and advisor). While they have ancient roots, these modes of persuasion are alive and well today. Put simply, ethos refers to persuasion based on the credibility or authority of the speaker, pathos refers to persuasion based on emotion, and logos refers to persuasion based on logic or reason. Characters in novels often use ethos, as well as logos and pathos, to convince one another of certain arguments in the same way that a speaker in reality might use these techniques.
Dressing up an actor as a doctor who then extols the benefits a medication is a way that advertisers used to try to gin up a little ethos, but such obvious practices of what might be called “fake ethos” are now regularly mocked. However, any celebrity endorsement or testimonial from an expert are also attempts to build up ethos around a product’s endorsement. For instance, here’s a Prudential Financial commercial that ups its ethos with an appearance by Harvard social psychologist Dan Gilbert. Ethos is often at play in speeches, literature, and marketing, such as in the examples below. It signals to the audience that your end goal as an author is based on good intentions in the best interest of the reader. When done effectively, your audience should clearly see why your perspective is justified and necessary.