Professor Mary Mathis
November 2, 2006
Aristotle 's Artistic Proofs as Applied to the "Declaration of War" Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt
Aristotle, although having lived thousands of years ago, continues to make an impact in our society with his contribution to Western thinking and his famous "art" of rhetoric. He remains to this day, one of the most influential philosophers in the history of rhetorical study. One of his most prominent works is his "Rhetoric", a book that "confronts scholars with several perplexing questions" (Herrick 74). "Rhetoric" is divided into three books that discuss the "domains of rhetoric, the rhetorical proofs that Aristotle is so famous for and matters of style and arrangement" (Herrick 74). One of the most important contributions of Aristotle 's "Rhetoric" is his idea of artistic proofs, which are used to persuade an audience. Since developed in the fourth century BC, these proofs still continue to be utilized by rhetoricians to this day through the Aristotelian method. There are three components that comprise the artistic proofs. These are "(1) logical reasoning (logos), (2) the names and causes of various human emotions (pathos), and (3) human character and goodness (ethos)" (Herrick 82). Although all parts of his work are instrumental to rhetoricians and scholars everywhere, I will focus on the profound impact of Aristotle 's "artistic proofs" to the art of rhetoric and use Franklin D. Roosevelt 's December 8, 1941 "Declaration of War" speech as an example of how they 're put into practice as a persuasive mechanism in today 's postmodern society.
Roosevelt used the artistic proofs in his emotionally charged speech to persuade the nation that it was worth going to war with Japan. He used all three rhetorical components in his rhetoric. Within the speech were (1) a concise and logical argument, (2) an appeal to the emotions of the people by Roosevelt, and (3) his credibility as the President
Cited: Herrick, James. "Aristotle Rhetoric". The History and Theory of Rhetoric. Needham Heights: MA, 2001. 74-84. "Pearl Harbor Attack". The 2000 Encyclopedia Britannica. 21 Oct. 2006. . Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation". / "Declaration of War" speech". American Rhetoric. 21 Oct. 2006. .