This paper focuses on several key concepts presented in Aristotle’s works. The rationale behind such a choice is associated with the fact that Aristotle’s works are widely believed to be among the most important texts from the history of rhetoric (Herrick, 2004).
Another reason for an in-depth focus on Aristotelian rhetoric is that many theories he developed are still widely used for effectively advancing arguments in the public discourse.
Aristotle introduced the three classical modes of persuasion — Ethos (appeal to authority), Pathos (appeal to emotion), and Logos (appeal to logic). As concerns Ethos, audience tends to believe speakers that elicit respect and demonstrate their credibility. Personal qualities that render speakers such credibility encompass a sense of wisdom (phronesis), goodwill (eunoia), and strong moral character (arete).
Pathos, for its part, implies that a speaker possesses the ability to arouse strong feeling and emotional reactions in his or her listeners. While Aristotle acknowledges the importance of the aforementioned modes of persuasion, he strongly deems that Logos is the most important and effective.
Logical reasoning is occurring in two main forms: induction and deduction. Inductive reasoning entails arriving at a certain conclusion on the basis of specific examples. Deduction implies ascribing certain qualities to objects or phenomena on the basis of a general rule.
Aristotle also investigates the concepts of syllogism and enthymeme. A syllogism, which is essentially a form of deductive reasoning, is defines as ‘a discourse in which, certain things having been supposed, something different from the things supposed results of necessity because these things are so’ (Aristotle, 1989, p.2).
A syllogism consists of three elements, namely the major premise, the minor premise, and the conclusion. Each premise has to have one term that conclusion also contains; it is referred to as the middle term.
The major term (a part of the major premise) is referred to as the predicate of the conclusion, and the minor term (a part of the minor premise) is referred to as the subject of the conclusion. An example of a syllogism presented by Aristotle is as follows: since all humans are mortal (major premise), and Socrates is human (minor premise), it is possible to infer that Socrates is mortal (conclusion).
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