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What is rhetoric? Rhetoric is the “art of persuasion”. It’s a practical everyday art of convincing others of your way - the “art of good argument”.
And what is Aristotle’s Rhetoric Written in 4BC, Aristotle wrote a treatise (essay) called “ars rhetorica” (the art of rhetoric). This focused on how rhetoric could be used to persuade using “probably knowledge”, rather than pure emotion - something he accused the Sophists of.
In his “art of rhetoric” he identified three key traits of a “good arguer:
Pathos : appeal to the emotion of the audience
Ethos : a sense of credibility and “moral competence”
Logos: good logical structure
Pathos Ethos Logos
Pathos Pathos appeals to the emotion of the audience. This can be done in a number of ways, for example by passion of delivery or by the use of metaphor or story telling.
Ethos Ethos is all about the sense of weight and expertise of the arguer. Aristotle specifically noted that Ethos wasn’t necessary about the character of the arguer, but the character of what the arguer says .
Logos Logos is all about making sure your argument is well structured and based on sound data / evidence. Structuring your argument and basing around data, makes an argument particularly difficult to counter.
Comparing modern day arguers Using Aristotle’s three key characteristics (Pathos, Ethos, Logos) you can quickly analyse good arguers from bad arguers. Great OK Bad President Obama has great amounts of Pathos, Ethos and Logo Gordon Brown lacks Pathos, but has Ethos and uses Logos well. John Prescott completely lacks logos and ethos. His pathos only works for certain working class audiences.
Know your subject . Remember the three r's: research, research, research. You don't want to look a dumbass mid-debate
Order your argument . Try using informal logic - this is the logic we naturally use in everyday arguments, and is based around a simple yet potent four-tier structure: i) State your overall position ii) Provide propositions that support your position iii) Backup your propositions with supporting arguments iv) Backup your arguments with supporting evidence.
Counter-attack . Don't panic if your opponent places the first punch. It's actually much easier to start by picking apart another's arguments. Then you unleash your logic-laden load right between your opponent's eyes. Like Tarantino, with a library card.
Keep cool . Think of yourself as a prize-fighter. Keep calm and focused, even when your on the ropes. There's no shame in calling for time-out. It could save your hide.
- Don't get personal . This leads to irrational thinking. Logic is king when it comes to winning arguments.
www.aMap.org.uk Happy arguing ; - ) N.B. You can buy our series of aMaps from www.aMap.org.uk/buy