What Is the Meaning of Logos, Ethos & Pathos?

Aristotle tackled philosophy, drama, history and many other subjects.
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In rhetoric-- the art of persuasive speaking or writing -- the different ways of persuading someone to your side are called "appeals." The Greek philosopher Aristotle referred to three kinds of appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos. Each kind of appeal attempts to persuade the audience to the writer or speaker's point of view, but they do so in different ways.

1 Logos

Logos, Greek for "word," refers to persuasion by logic. An argument using logos is using logic to appeal to the audience. Logos relies on consistency, logical argument, and effective supporting evidence and examples. For instance, using facts and data to prove your point is an example of an appeal from logos.

2 Ethos

Ethos, Greek for "character," uses the speaker or writer's credibility to appeal to the audience. Ethos can include the tone of the message, the speaker's expertise and education, and even his or her reputation. It is often called the "appeal from credibility." Persuading someone to listen to you due to your past experience or expertise in the field is an example of an appeal from ethos.

3 Pathos

Pathos, Greek for "suffering," refers to an appeal based on emotion or feelings rather than logic. Pathos appeals try to resonate with the audience's emotions and make the audience identify emotionally with the speaker or writer. Persuading someone with an emotional example, or using someone's feelings to get them to take action, is a type of appeal from pathos.

Richard A. Brown has been a writer and editor for print and web content since 2007, and has written for numerous blogs and publications around the web. He holds a bachelor's degree in writing and political science from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa.