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Classical Appeals

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Classical Appeals

Polar bears are stranded on rapidly melting ice, with no land in sight. Separated from their families, many will likely die stranded and alone. We can help them avoid this tragic fate. If you vote for me, I promise to do everything in my power to save the polar bears.”

The crowd tears up. They start to think about the animals and people they loved, and how those people might be hurt if the climate keeps getting worse. The speaker has convinced them to vote for change.

This speaker effectively persuaded his audience in just a few words. He was able to do this because he used a classical appeal. Classical appeals are rhetorical techniques used to persuade an audience.

Classical Appeals Definition

Classical appeals are rhetorical strategies of persuasion.

Over 2,400 years ago a philosopher named Aristotle lived in Greece. Aristotle is known as the father of rhetoric, which is the art of persuasion. He crafted strong, persuasive arguments using rhetorical appeals and coined the terms for the three main appeals that writers still use today: ethos, pathos, logos.

These rhetorical techniques are called “appeals” because the speaker or writer is “appealing” to his audience. He wants to convince whoever is listening to him that he is right. The classical rhetorical appeals are passionate pleas for the listener to understand the main point of an argument. Each appeal uses a different approach, but they all have the same goal of making a strong argument.

Aristotle was a philosopher who lived in what is called the “Classical Period.” This is why these appeals are called classical appeals.

Classical Appeals, Aristotle, StudySmarterThe Greek Philosopher Aristotle. Pixabay.

Classical Appeals of Persuasion

In his treatise entitled Rhetoric (350 BC), Aristotle discussed several ways to master the art of persuasion, including appealing to credibility, logic, and emotions. He also emphasized the importance of making an argument at an appropriate time and place.

Types of Classical Rhetorical Appeals

There are three main classical rhetorical appeals, ethos, pathos, and logos. Aristotle also wrote about a lesser-known appeal called kairos. Effective arguments use a combination of them to get the reader’s attention and convince them.

Ethos, \ ˈē-ˌthäs \

Ethos is an appeal to the speaker’s credibility.

A writer or speaker uses ethos to convince the audience that he is a credible source who values the same things the listeners' do. If an audience trusts who they are listening to, they are more likely to agree with what that person is saying.

Imagine a climate scientist is giving a speech in which she tries to persuade the audience to eat a vegetarian diet. She might reference her educational and professional background in order to show that she is a trustworthy source on this topic. Or the scientist might explain that she understands the audience’s desire for a long, healthy future, to show that her argument aligns with their same goals.

When identifying a speaker’s use of ethos, people should look for:

  • Places in which the speaker points to their own qualifications.

  • Ways in which the speaker tries to highlight their reputation or make themself seem believable.

  • Moments when the speaker tries to connect with the audience’s values or experiences.

When analyzing a speaker’s use of ethos, people should:

  • Consider whether the speaker comes across as a trustworthy source of information.

  • Consider if the speaker seems to value the same values as the intended audience.

Pathos, \ ˈpā-ˌthäs, -ˌthȯs, -ˌthōs \

Pathos is an appeal to the audience's emotions.

A writer or speaker uses pathos in order to tug at the audience’s heartstrings. To appeal to emotions, speakers typically use techniques like personal anecdotes, figurative language, and vivid details.

Imagine that a presidential candidate is trying to convince listeners to vote for them because they will stand up against gun violence. They might use vivid imagery to describe how horrible it is that young people are dying on the streets every day from gun violence and leaving their parents childless. Emphasizing emotional aspects of this issue, like grief, will make the listeners understand how upsetting this issue is and persuade them to think that this candidate should take a firm stand on the issue.

When identifying a speaker’s use of pathos, people should look for:

  • Places in which the speaker uses vivid imagery or sensory details to influence the author’s feelings.

  • Personal stories the speaker tells to connect with the audience.

  • The use of figurative language, like metaphors or similes.

  • Emotional language and expressions.

  • Places in which the listener is struck with strong emotion.

When analyzing the use of pathos, people should consider if:

  • The speaker effectively engages the audience.

  • The speaker generates feelings like sympathy or joy from the audience.

  • The speaker's use of vivid detail, figurative language, or anecdotes actually supports the argument.

Logos \ ˈlō-ˌgäs, -ˌgōs \

Logos is an appeal to logic or reason.

Writers and speakers often use logos in arguments in order to convince the audience that they are making a logical point. This often entails using lots of evidence, facts, and data, to make their point.

Imagine a teacher is trying to convince an audience that standardized testing should not be a requirement for college admissions. The teacher might point to specific statistics that highlight how students from a higher social class have an advantage on standardized tests over students from a lower social class. Pointing to specific data and mentioning a source helps speakers and writers make logical points.

When identifying a speaker’s use of pathos, people should look for:

  • The use of objective evidence like statistics or facts to support an argument.

  • Connections to history to show the development of a topic.

  • References to credible sources who agree with the argument.

When identifying a speaker’s use of pathos, people should look for:

  • If the speaker’s argument is reasonable.

    If the speaker’s use of evidence supports his argument.

The word “logos" comes from Greek and means “word,” or “reason.” This can remind writers that logos is an appeal to reason!

Kairos \ (ˈ)kī¦räs \

Kairos is the act of choosing the right words, place, and time to make an argument.

Aristotle also taught another mode of appeal, which is lesser-known today, but is still relevant when crafting a strong argument. This appeal is called kairos, and it is concerned with using the correct words and correct time for an argument. Making an argument to a distracted audience would be ineffective and speakers should instead wait until they have the proper setting to engage listeners. Similarly, speakers need to make sure that they choose words and phrases that their audience will understand and connect with.

Classical Appeals. Speaking, StudySmarterA combination of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Make for a Strong Persuasive Argument. Flaticon.

Classical Appeal Examples

Speakers and writers use classical appeals for many reasons, from highlighting their credentials and accomplishments to pointing out the need for social change. Below are just a few times throughout history where speakers have used these appeals to craft memorable arguments.

Example of Ethos

Many famous politicians have used ethos throughout history to showcase their credibility and gain their audience’s trust. For example, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill used ethos in his 1940 speech to the House of Commons, "The Finest Hour." Churchill aimed to keep his people determined amidst World War II, despite the fall of France:

Some people seem to forget that we have a Navy. We must remind them. For the last thirty years I have been concerned in discussions about the possibilities of oversea invasion, and I took the responsibility on behalf of the Admiralty, at the beginning of the last war, of allowing all regular troops to be sent out of the country."

Here Churchill notes his professional experience with the Navy to remind his audience that he knows what he is doing, and that he is an educated, capable leader despite the dark recent developments. When leaders remind their people of their credentials like this it can help them keep their people calm in tumultuous times.

Example of Pathos

Many famous examples of pathos are evident in civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he gave in Washington D.C. in 1963. In the speech, King was trying to elicit an emotional response from the audience so that they care about his dream for a more equitable society. For example, he said:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.”

By referencing his young children, King aims to connect with the audience and get them to empathize with him as a parent who wants the best for his children. This sentence reminds the audience that the children of today will be the ones to grow up amidst present social changes, and people universally want good things for young children. King also used pathos when he said:

the life of the Negro is sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

Readers or listeners might identify this as pathos because of the impassioned language, but to analyze pathos like this it's crucial to think about the word choice and the implications of the specific details. For instance, the phrases “manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination” create vivid images of harsh treatment that aim to generate the audience’s sympathy by alerting them to the pain of segregation and discrimination. These are also specific images of enslavement that recall the brutal historical legacy of slavery and aim to remind the audience about the horrible treatment that the Black community has had to endure.

King's speech is also an example of kairos because he picked an ideal time to make this argument. He gave this speech during the 1963 March on Washington, a massive protest for African American civil rights. Over 250,000 people were present at this March, all impassioned about King's cause. This time, place, and crowd, made a perfect platform for King to persuade listeners of his ideas.

Examples of Logos

There are many famous examples of logos, such as former US president Barack Obama’s 2013 address to the nation about Syria. In this speech, he wanted to draw the audience’s attention to the importance of the conflict in Syria and his plan of action regarding the issue. He used a lot of logic to support his discussion. For example, he pointed out:

Over 10,000 people have been killed. Millions have fled the country.”

By using specific data on the number of people negatively impacted by the conflict, Obama emphasized that this was a massive, important event that listeners should care about. He also used historical evidence to support his argument. He explained that now chemical weapons are viewed as crimes against humanity but:

This was not always the case. In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe. In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust. Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them."

By bringing up the development of the topic throughout history, Obama reminded listeners that these weapons have been a pressing issue for many years, and that the concerns he is raising about them is not new. Pointing to historical trends like this helped him show that his argument is a logical one.

Classical Appeals - Key Takeaways

  • Classical appeals are strategies used to persuade.
  • The Greek philosopher Aristotle developed the classical appeals over 2,000 years ago.
  • Ethos is an appeal to a speaker's character.
  • Pathos is an appeal to emotion.
  • Logos is an appeal to logic and reason.

Frequently Asked Questions about Classical Appeals

Classical appeals are techniques to persuade an audience. 

 Ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos. 

Ethos, pathos, and logos. 

Ethos, pathos, and logos. 

Logos. 

Final Classical Appeals Quiz

Question

What is logos?

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Answer

The persuasive appeal to logic.

Show question

Question

What is inductive reasoning?

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Answer

Reasoning that takes similar anecdotes and facts and draws general conclusions from them

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What is deductive reasoning?

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Answer

Reasoning that takes agreed upon general propositions and draws conclusions from them

Show question

Question

What kind of reasoning does the scientific method use?

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Answer

Inductive Reasoning

Show question

Question

What kind of reasoning does math use?

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Answer

Deductive Reasoning

Show question

Question

What do speakers tend to use as support for their claims?

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Answer

Citation of facts, statistics and scientific studies

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Question

Who developed the syllogism?

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Answer

Aristotle

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Question

If logos is used in an argument, does it mean that the argument is true?

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Answer

Yes, always makes an argument true

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Question

How does Shakespeare's character Iago use logos?

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Answer

He tells Othello the facts that Desdemona is willing to hide relationship from her father, so she will do the same to you.

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Question

What Russian novelist was known for his use of logos to bolster his opponents arguments?

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Answer

Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Question

What is the meaning of classical appeals?

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Answer

Classical appeals are rhetorical strategies of persuasion.

Show question

Question

What philosopher developed the classical appeals?

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Answer

Aristotle

Show question

Question

What is ethos?

Show answer

Answer

Ethos is an appeal to the speaker’s credibility.

Show question

Question

What is pathos?

Show answer

Answer

Pathos is an appeal to the audience's emotions. 


Show question

Question

What is logos? 

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Answer

Logos is an appeal to logic or reason.

Show question

Question

Which appeal concerns the time and place of an argument?

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Answer

Kairos

Show question

Question

Which of the following appeals is used here: "100,000 people have left the country because of the conflict." 

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Answer

Logos 

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Question

Which of the following appeals is used here: "As a doctor with ten years studying lung cancer, I am here to tell you that smoking kills." 

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Answer

Ethos

Show question

Question

What philosophical period did Aristotle live in?

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Answer

The Classical period. 

Show question

Question

Which of the following appeals is used here? "the life of the Negro is sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation..." 

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Answer

Pathos

Show question

Question

What is ethos?

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Answer

Ethos is a classical rhetorical appeal to credibility. 

Show question

Question

What are the three main classical appeals?

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Answer

Ethos, logos, and pathos

Show question

Question

Which Greek philosopher coined the term ethos?

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Answer

Aristotle

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Question

Which of the following is an appeal to emotions?

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Answer

Pathos

Show question

Question

Why does a speaker use ethos?

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Answer

To seem credible to the audience

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Question

What does the Greek word ethos mean?

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Answer

Character 

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True or False. People only use ethos when making public speeches. 

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Answer

False. Ethos occurs in writing as well. 

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Question

Which of the following do speakers use to appeal to credibility?

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Answer

Mention their own qualifications

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True or False. Ethos and Logos are the same things. 

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False. Ethos is an appeal to credibility and Logos is an appeal to logic. 

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Question

Spot the example of ethos

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Answer

"As a candidate with ten years of leadership experience, I can assure you I won't let you down."

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Question

What is pathos?

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Answer

Pathos is an appeal to emotion. 

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Question

What is emotion-laden language?

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Answer

Emotion-laden language is language that elicits intense emotions from the reader but does not directly refer to a specific emotion.  

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Question

What is the root word of the word pathos and what does it mean?


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Answer

Path, which comes from the Greek for "feeling." 

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Question

Which Greek philosopher wrote a treatise entitled 'Rhetoric?'

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Answer

Aristotle

Show question

Question

What is the difference between logos and ethos?

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Answer

Ethos is an appeal to credibility and logos is an appeal to logic. 

Show question

Question

What is rhetoric?

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Answer

The art of persuasion 

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Question

A speaker wants to come across as credible. Which rhetorical appeal should he use?

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Answer

Ethos 

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Question

Which of the following should a speaker use to create pathos?

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Answer

Sensory imagery 

Show question

Question

True or False. Only public speakers use pathos. Readers do not find pathos in books. 

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Answer

False. Writers also use pathos to appeal to their readers’ emotions. 

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Question

True or False. Speakers only use pathos to elicit negative emotions. 

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Answer

False. Speakers can use pathos to elicit both positive and negative emotions from their audience. 

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