Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ethos, Pathos, Logos

I am always startled by Aristotle's philosophy. Unlike many economists, politicians and statesmen that we have had for the last century, he draws his philosophies from understanding the simplest things in life that happens daily, with pure sensibility.

That alone explains how he has his ideas in myriads of subjects ranging from physics to poetry, music to politics, metaphysics to ethics, theater to logic, rhetoric to biology, government and zoology.

And that is because he is capable of thinking, unlike many of us out here in this 21st Century that fails to think (thanks to our rotten education system and self-pleasing family institution) or decided not to think (for fears of losing what theirs, in the past, present and future).

Today, let's think over Aristotle's The Art of Rhetoric - an art, in my feeble mind, we ought to understand now that our intelligence is being bombarded with all kind of writings by 'spinners' on daily basis.

According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion", that can be described in 3 main form, namely Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

"Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author or speaker.

"Pathos (Emotional) means persuading by appealing to the reader's emotions.

"Logos (Logical) means persuading by the use of reasoning.

For this Great Thinker, rhetoric is useful because *"things that are true and things that are just , have a natural tendency to prevail over their opposites, so that if the decisions of judges are not what they ought to be, the defeat must be due to the speakers themselves, and they must be blamed accordingly.

Moreover, before some audiences, not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. For argument based on knowledge implies instruction, and there are people whom one cannot instruct. Here, then, we must use, as our modes of persuasion and argument, notions possessed by everybody.

Further, we must be able to employ persuasion, just as strict reasoning can be employed, on opposite sides of a question, not in order that we may in practice employ it in both ways (for we must not make people believe what is wrong), but in order that we may see clearly what the facts are, and that, if another man argues unfairly, we on our part may be able to confute him"*.

*As extracted from W. Rhys Roberts' translation of Aristotle's Rhetoric here.

There are times when we feel that it is worth saying anything to anyone on matters that matter to us, people we care for and this Ibu Pertiwi, but our unfounded fears to be labeled as not fit ,not smart, not educated, not successful enough to have such opinion, that always stop us from saying anything with conviction.

I always remember what my mentor used to tell me, "When you say something to make one realise, we should never expect one to change the world overnight. What we should fairly aim for is to create a spark of realisation, enlightenment in one's heart for the heart is the King of one's soul. If the heart is good, rest assured everything else that comes out from one's soul is good".

For me, applying Aristotle's art of rhetoric is important, not only to convince others through written and verbal words, but also to fight the battle in our mind, shifting our paradigms, doing what is right and sensible, like the other half of Madam Eleanor Roosevelt says, "Rhetoric is a poor substitute for action, and we have trusted only to rhetoric. If we are really to be a great nation, we must not merely talk; we must act big".

One of the big actions we could take, NOW, is to register ourselves as voters. Have you done that? Here's how.


walla said...

This blogger stands in a class of her own. An exceptional mind and i kid you not, people.

Fi-sha said...

Dear Sir Walla

Too bad, i'm all alone in this class because nobody wants to take this 'subject'.

walla said...

nice pic, right down to wavy hair.. ;P