Aristotle and Rhetoric

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Aristotle on Speaking and Rhetoric

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E) was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. He is known as one of the greatest intellectual figures of all time. Aristotle covered most of the sciences and many of the arts. He has been called the father of modern science. The Rhetorical Triangle consists of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Like wise, the Canons of Rhetoric are broken down into five parts: Invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Aristotle’s work is thought to be the most important work on persuasion ever written. Rhetoric is using persuasion to effectively communicate in writing or speaking. In fact, we all use the Rhetorical Triangle and the Canons of Rhetoric in our everyday lives.

Of the Rhetorical Triangle first is Ethos. Ethos is the appeal to the credibility of the speaker. For example, if I were to stand up and give a speech in front of the country, there would be a need for an introduction as to who I am. Otherwise, people would just sit and wonder why on earth I am talking to them and why on earth they should listen. There is a need to establish my credibility and tell everyone who I am. On the other hand, if President Obama were to get up and speak virtually nobody would question who he was. He has established credibility because he is the President of The United States. Whether you like him or not, you don’t have to question why you should listen to him. (At least most of the time) Whether you have to establish your credibility or you have some by a position you hold, the people in the audience will not hear your message without it. Pathos is the second part of the triangle. Pathos is the appeal to your emotions, values, and beliefs. For instance, if you hear the statistic that 75 percent of the people in Africa are starving, you might think wow, that is a lot of people and continue on your way. On the contrary, if you see images of people emaciated and suffering or little kids belly’s that are bloated, and people eating out of piles of garbage, you are now emotionally involved and are more apt to be moved to action. Similarly the same is true with all emotions. If you laugh, cry, or are made upset by something then you have succumb to Pathos. The last part of the Rhetorical Triangle is Logos. Logos is the appeal to reason. If your message is logical, includes facts and figures, if there is proof of what you are saying is true, and if it is real then you can successfully use logos to your benefit. Additionally, people throughout your speech are continually going to be asking themselves if what you are saying is true. You can also establish Logos by telling personal stories and cite your sources. The more real facts and detail you have the more believable you will be. To establish logos you can use analogies or metaphors. Many orators will use analogies or metaphors from the bible. Earlier I mentioned that 75 percent of Africans were starving. If my sources came from people magazine or an anti-government website then you probably couldn’t take it seriously. On the other hand, if my sources came from the Center for Disease Control or the World Health Organization, those are credible sources and you could believe them. Not only did I use facts and figures, but I also used credible sources. Indeed, using the Rhetorical Triangle in your speeches is a necessary component. Equally important would be is where to establish each part of the rhetorical triangle in a speech. Aristotle and Cicero (106-43 B.C.E.) broke down the process of preparing a speech into five parts. As described in “A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking, the canons of rhetoric are as follows: Invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. First on the list is invention. Invention is deciding what you are going to say to the audience that you are presenting to. This is tied to the Logos appeal. Aristotle says that rhetoric is mostly invention,...
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