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July 27, 2003

Ethos, Pathos, Logos....Blogos

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I have been thinking today about rhetoric. Aristotle described it as "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." He talked about three main arts of rhetoric as being Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Ethos is persuasion based on the character and/or credentials of the communicator. If the communicator is trustworthy, has their listener's best interests at heart, knows what they are talking about, practices what they preach and has integrity they are more likely to be persuasive.

Pathos is persuasion based on emotion. When people have a strong connection with the communicator on a 'feeling' level their argument can become all the more powerful. Engage the heart and you'll be all the more likely to convince one's audience.

Logos is persuasion based on logic or reason. If a communicator makes sense and their argument is presented in an ordered and conclusive manner they are likely to convince the listener well.

I've found these three arts as being useful in thinking about speaking/preaching. Most good speakers that I've heard have had the ability to draw on each of these in their speaking. They also weave them together at the appropriate time. Alone each are important tools but when you bring them together they can be quite powerful.

Similarly, in the last few months I've noticed that many good bloggers (or at least the ones I like) are also able to draw on each of these three 'arts' in their blogging. Different bloggers will be stronger in different ways, but I suspect that many top bloggers will be able to bring each to their blogging.

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Posted by Darren at July 27, 2003 11:46 PM | TrackBack

I think I have a problem with Aristotle's definition. It sounds to me - and I think it has always seemed this way - a little like intellectual oppression.

It's one thing to present a case to someone that they can then weigh up and consider. It's something quite different, I think, to seek to persuade them, to pressure or bully them into seeing how right we are.

I'm particularly concerned when this type of rhetoric comes up in preaching - however that is conceived. I've heard so many sermons that either try to create a compelling air-tight logical case, or they seek to manipulate in some either way. ISTM, that true Christ-like preaching would include an element of empowerment, not entrappment. So, it is plausible that my preaching might lead to someone reaching an opposite conclusion to me - but if they've done so in the mind of Christ I would (theoretically) rejoice. I think. :o)

Posted by: anabaptist at July 28, 2003 08:10 PM
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