October 10, 2014
The rhetoric in Geography of Bliss
In Geography of Bliss, Eric Weiner is setting on finding the world's happiest country. He uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science, and humor to investigate where happiness is. Rhetoric has enjoyed many definitions, accommodated differing purposes, and varied widely in what it included. The traditional definition of rhetoric, first proposed by Aristotle, was the art of observing in any given case the “available means of persuasion.” It is such a wise definition. In a broader sense, good rhetoric can refer to the effective use of language in any form of discourse. To me, good rhetoric is persuasive communication that is intended to convince the audience of a special point of view rather than to simply convey information. In other words, good rhetoric includes connecting with the audience emotionally (Pathos), containing hard evidences (Logos), and building credibility (Ethos). Rhetoric is the way to win arguments, and it is how you can change people's minds. I believe an effective argument is when people read and form an opinion about your work, they can agree with you. It can even change the audiences' mind if they think the opposite before reading your essays. In Eric Weiner’s Geography of Bliss, he exemplifies my definition of good rhetoric. Eric Weiner uses the three base components to persuade and convince audiences who are looking for happiness and do not know what happiness really is to be on his side of the argument. All people have different definitions of happiness; even Weiner himself has been looking happiness for a long time. The audience will find out their own ideas after reading this book.
Eric Weiner found out that each country have their own vision on happiness, and the location is not a factor but families, relationships, culture, and occupation do have an effect in one’s true happiness. He started off his argument with great rhetoric that piques reader's interest at first. He tells audience his personal experience to gather the readers’ attention and sympathy–“I am not a happy person, never have been” (2). His travel has sent him through the darkest corners of the world to the brightest and busiest places of all. Thus, Weiner's exigency that let him keep travelling is obvious to tell--he wanted to know what happiness was to him as an unhappy person. Also, is there a standard definition of happiness? Happiness is untouchable and mysterious but most people think it can be easily found in their lives. His simple and unadorned sentences appeal a powerful emotion to the audience. Emotions are necessary elements when we are trying to build a good powerful argument. For instance, Weiner questions the audience: “What if you lived in a country that was fabulously wealthy and no one paid taxes? What if you lived in a country where failure is an option? What if you lived in a country so democratic that you voted seven times a year? ” (2). Pathos is evident in this passage because Weiner asks the audience whether they would be happy if they lived in countries with different economic and political standards. He tries to convey his argument by evoking emotion to the audience -- he tries to prove that there is not a certain definition to happiness. Happiness depends on the constraint which involves each person’s perspective of the world that surrounds them. One example of such constraint is the Chinese government's policy which states a single-party of citizens do not have right to vote. The leaders will not be happy if the country becomes democratic. On the other hand, Chinese people who are living in America will be happy with the democratic system. People living in different countries have different opinions of what happiness is, hence this is Weiner’s argument on the definition of happiness.
Secondly, Weiner uses logos to convey that happiness is determined by one’s surroundings. He uses evidence such...
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