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Rhetorical Theory

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The main logic behind argumentative writing is to try and “seduce” your audience on the validity of your ideas as opposed to someone else’s. The art of Rhetorical appeal was a brain child of Aristotle the great Greek Philosopher. In his argument, he divided the Persuasive appeals into Ethos, Pathos and finally Logos. Rhetoric is an English word for specific instance of discourse, to Philosophy and Art. It was derived from a Greek word “rhetorike”.this word was a combination of two word “rhetor” for politician or public speaker and “rhetor-eia” for the skill or Art of orator “rhetor”(Edward Schiappa 2003,p.40).

In my argument am going to try and discus the three rhetoric appeals which are Ethos, Logos, and Pathos., but my main focus will be on Ethos

Logos

Aristotle defines the word Logos which is Greek for ‘word’ as “the internal consistency of a massage” the logic of its reasons, the clarity of its means and the effectiveness of its supporting evidence. This was formulated on the context that both bad and good reasoning are possible hence becoming the practical part of the logos ‘word’. In every argument giving reasons is its heart. In trying to bring out the authensisty of an argument one can ask him/herself this questions; Is the argument based of definitions( does he iron out the confusion in the major terms?),Does he compare and make analogies ( Does he use related citations?),Are there consequential appeals and causes(this issue is best evidenced in  policy issues related arguments?) and lastly does  he cite opinions by experts on the same topic(Does the person refer to the public opinion and that of expert  as pertaining to their position in support of his argument? (Durhamtech).

Pathos

On the other hand Pathos which is Greek for “experience or suffering”. According to Aristotle’s definition of pathos is a painful action or destruction like great pain, death in full view, wounds and such like things. It includes events that are vividly narrated (Georgios Anagnostopoulos, p.633).Pathos in a lay man’s language can be defined as the emotional and imaginative impact of the massage on the audience, or the ability of the writer to make the audience to decide to move in action to his narration  be it eliciting happy emotions or sad ones. This is often related to emotions on the audience. This entails the perfect select of word or phrases that will trigger positive emotional respose.the best example of this technique is how it is used in cinematography to trigger the emotions of Love, anger, sadness and laughter Steven Spielberg uses this technique in the “Titanic movie”.Dr Martin Luther King Junior also uses this technique in his August 28, 1963 “I have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC (Edward Schiappa, 1999).

The pathos can be used as a tool by the writer or arguer to elicit reactions in an audience. For example in the modern world of cut-throat competition in the market most advertisers have resulted to using Pathos as a Marketing strategy. It is still this same technique that is being used by media houses like CNN, ALJAZIRA, BBC and the like to draw peoples’ attention at the suffering in war torn area of Africa, Hunger and Disease inhabited area. The emotional effect that this technique has elicited on the audience has helped in the coming out of well wishers and philanthropic organizations, in trying to address the key issues and formulation of policies that can lead to either ending the suffering temporarily or permanently.

Ethos and the War on Terrorism                                                   

The last and most important of the three rhetorical appeal styles is the “Ethos” Greek for “character”. This word may be used to refer to the trustworthiness of the writer or speaker mostly conveyed through the massage, style and tone in reference to views. It has been argued that the audience attaches itself more to a person who has proven his or her self through factual arguments. The best example of this style is what has been adopted by “faithful”. People will prefer to listen to Joel Osteen Televangelist as opposed to Bill Graham and vice versa for the same reason above. Aristotle says that people judge ones written or spoken ideas through their good sense of appearance? (Durhamtech).

In my discussion am going to try and bring out the use of Ethos on the war on Terror. The war on Terror has been fought for several years. In America a new dawn was born in the war against Terrorism after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attracts on the twin towers and the Pentagon.

Since ethos is mainly guided by reputation, A persons reputation depend on their past reputation that is to say what is known “Spoken or written’ about them. As much as Aristotle talks about reputation and a persons Credibity as a means of gaining trust among the audience is true. Take like for Instance the War on Terror, The Bush family had established itself in the War against terror when George Bush senior led the America people in the Gulf War of 1991.It through this family repute that George Bush junior accumulated the support of the masses into launching an attract on Afghanistan and the later Iraq. In this scenario ethos is seen playing a major role.

On the contrary some scholars can challenge the ethos effect in this scenario. Since good reputation is what the ethos emphasizes most as a way of wining peoples respect and credibilty.that does not manifest itself here, it can be argued that despite all that had been written against the Bush family on the Gulf war. His failure to defeat Saddam Hussein, He still railed support of the American people in launching the attack. By this the conflict in ethos becomes overt.

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The Ethos as a form of Credibility is important in today’s world especially the political world. By one talking with confidence and the ability to prove that they are sure of what they are talking about. This pauses a major challenge to their opposition and thus wins great admiration from the audience. Take for instance President Bush speech at Ground Zero at the debris sight where the attack had taken place. By him vowing to Get Osama Bin-Laden dead or alive, he ignited hope and admiration for his leadership. Basing on his family’s war History and his reassuring speech as l quote “Those who destroyed these buildings will hear from all of us soon!”(John Strawson 2002).In another reassurance speech against terrorism on the Yemen Bomb threat President Obama is quoted saying “We will continue to work with the Yemen government to destroy Al-Queada”

The Ethos is based on the principals of “believing in ones self” first before others can believe in you. It is evident in many politicians and persons of repute that have risen from nobodies to later command the highest respect and admiration from the masses. Give for example the current American President Barrack Hussein Obama, despite the Black race being the minority in a whites dominated state he coined the slogan “Change We Can Believe In” that propelled him to the Presidency of the most powerful nation in the world today. Basing on the above believing in ones self, President Bush was confident of victory in the war against terrorism by believing that he could capture Osama Bin Laden. The conflict arises when George Bush fails to capture Osama Bin Laden. Ethos does not discuss its failure due to over ambition brought about by believing in ones self.

According to Michael J.Hyde in his “Book the ethos of rhetoric”, Hyde talks about how the American culture has despised the rhetoric ethos by referring to it has “Mere and empty”. As opposed to writing Hyde talks of the American culture of “Actions speaks louder than words”. More Americans prefer action as opposed to words .On rhetoric ethos Hyde is quoted saying “when the crisis is of national scope, Americans look to the President to perform rhetorical role”. In other words the American Presidency has established itself as an “authority, outer face of leadership and public communicator”. This was the basis on which George Bush Junior drew his support into launching a retaliatory attack on the perpetrators’ of the September 11, 2001 twin bombings in America (Michael J.Hyde2004, p.136-137)

It is on the same call for action that Napoleon Bonaparte the great emperor of France was reported remarking “The question of the day shall not be solved by long speechs, but through the barrel of the gun”. The remarks he made before initiating World War 1.He did this to establish himself as the greatest.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the three rhetoric appeals of Logos, Pathos and Ethos as formulated by Aristotle are practical to the modern society as they have been applied in several spheres of our day to day leaving. Despite all the praises the appeals might elicit. One writer by the names Michael J.Hyde lamented that as much as we celebrate it, rhetoric is at times seen as an evil. He thus goes ahead to say that in his opinion as much as rhetoric cannot be banished from American politics there is no use in celebrating it either. Hyde talks about the Americans being alienated from politics, the appearance of loss of skills deliberation, the weakening of a common culture or the general public atrophy sphere. He goes ahead to conclude that all this are as a result of the “Very marginal dwelling place rhetoric is assigned in the American culture” (Michael J.Hyde2004, p.136).

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