Ethos, Kairos, Logos, Pathos – Four Pillars of Rhetoric

Rhetorical devices are methods that authors use to persuade, encourage, or provoke the listeners or readers. Rhetorical devices aim to arouse an emotional response from the audience through the use of speech and language, but this is not their main purpose. With the help of rhetorical devices, a speaker can make his or her position or argument more powerful.

          Even if you are unfamiliar with the concepts such as ethos, kairos, logos, and pathos, you nevertheless use and come across them every day – in conversations, articles, books, and so on. The following article will acquaint you with these stylistic and persuasive rhetorical devices and show how to correctly use them to write a good paper or prepare a public speech.

History of Rhetorical Devices

          Aristotle is the author of the methods of persuasion. In his treatise “Rhetoric” Aristotle characterizes rhetorical devices as follows:

“There are three types of persuasion methods provided by speech: some of them are determined by the speaker’s disposition, others – by the mood of the audience, and another – by speech itself with its true or imaginary persuasion.”

          Pathos, ethos, and logos are techniques of persuasion in rhetoric that determine the author’s strategy when addressing listeners or readers.

Ethos as a Rhetorical Device

          Ethos is a method of persuading the audience in the author’s authority and reputation. With the help of ethos, the author shows the audience that he/she can be trusted. The author convinces the reader of his/her professionalism, knowledge, and experience. The author can emphasize the moral values that the audience supports and thus strengthen his/her idea.

Ethos in Use

          With the help of ethos, the author can form credence and belief in the veracity of his/her words. To do that, the author should:

– tell about his/her professional experience or the experience of a specialist whose opinion you trust;

– tell about his/her education and achievements;

– refer to the opinions of experts and other specialists;

– use professional vocabulary.

Pathos as a Rhetorical Device

          Pathos is a method of persuasion with the help of emotions. Using pathos, the author can evoke the desired emotion in the reader or listener: pity, empathy, sympathy, anger, or fear. But you should not use only pathos in your text; it will be more effective to use logical arguments, authoritative opinion, and emotionally strengthen your text.

Pathos in Use

          The author can tell stories, examples from life, share personal experiences, and events that happened to him/her. This will help create an emotional bond with his/her audience.

Logos as a Rhetorical Device

          Logos is a method of persuasion using logic, common sense, reason. Logos include:

– statistics, facts, research results;

– scientific information and theory;

– examples that the audience can apply to;

– historical events or experiences of the author.

Logos in Use

          If ethos is the ground or basis of your argument, logos is what reveals it and leads the reader further, strengthening the author’s opinion and maximally convincing the audience of his/her rightness and authority.

Kairos as a Rhetorical Device

          Kairos is an ancient Greek word for the critical or right moment. The ancient Greeks used two words to designate time: chronos and kairos. The first one refers to sequential or chronological time, while the second refers to a suitable or favorable time for action.

          Kairos is very significant in Aristotle’s rhetoric scheme, too. It is the temporal and spatial context in which the evidence will be presented. Kairos stands next to other contextual elements of rhetoric: audience, which is the psychological and emotional line-up of those who will receive evidence; and To Prepon – the style in which the speaker presents the proof.

Kairos in Use

          The purpose of kairos nowadays is mainly focused on the placement of logos, ethos, and pathos. Kairos is a “starting point” in modern rhetoric. The inclusion of kairos in discourse “is an attempt to shift the focus of personal writing from the experiences and emotions of the author to a broader perspective that concentrates on the rhetorical situation.”

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