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Title: Pathos  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Rhetoric, Glossary of rhetorical terms, Bathos, Ethos, Today's featured article/requests/Charlie Chaplin
Collection: Emotion, Philosophical Concepts, Rhetoric
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Pathos (, US ; plural: pathea; Greek: πάθος, for "suffering" or "experience;" adjectival form: 'pathetic' from παθητικός) represents an appeal to the emotions of the audience.[1] Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and logos), and in literature, film and other narrative art.

Emotional appeal can be accomplished in a multitude of ways:


  • Relation to logos 1
  • Aristotle’s text on pathos 2
  • Alternative views on pathos 3
  • Pathos before Aristotle 4
  • Contemporary pathos 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Relation to logos

The mode of pathos is, more often than not, construed as fundamentally emotive, by extension leaving logos unemotive.

Another interpretation is that logos invokes emotions relevant to the issue at hand, logic and fact based, whereas pathos invokes emotions that have no bearing on the issue, in that the pathē they stimulate lack, or at any rate are not shown to possess, any intrinsic connection with the point at issue.[2]

Aristotle’s text on pathos

In Aristotle's Rhetoric, he identifies three artistic modes of persuasion, one of which was “awakening emotion (pathos) in the audience so as to induce them to make the judgment desired.”[3] In the first chapter he includes the way in which “men change their opinion in regard to their judgment. As such emotions have specific causes and effects” (Book 2.1.2–3).[3] Aristotle identifies pathos as one of the three essential modes of proof by his statement that “to understand the emotions---that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited (1356a24-1356a25).[3] Aristotle posits that, alongside pathos, the speaker must deploy good ethos in order to establish credibility (Book 2.1.5–9).[3] Aristotle details what individual emotions are useful to a speaker (Book 2.2.27).[3] In doing so, Aristotle focused on whom, toward whom, and why stating that "It is not enough to know one or even two of these points; unless we know all three, we shall be unable to arouse anger in anyone. The same is true of the other emotions." He also arranges the emotions with one another so that they may counteract one another. For example, one would pair sadness with happiness (Book 2.1.9).[3] With this understanding, Aristotle argues for the rhetor to understand the entire situation of goals and audiences to decide which specific emotion the speaker would exhibit or call upon in order to persuade the audience. Aristotle’s theory of pathos has three main foci: the frame of mind the audience is in, the variation of emotion between people, and the influence the rhetor has on the emotions of the audience. Aristotle classifies the third of this trio as the ultimate goal of pathos.[4] Similarly, Aristotle outlines the individual importance of persuasive emotions, as well as the combined effectiveness of these emotions on the audience. Moreover, Aristotle pointedly discusses pleasure and pain in relation to the reactions these two emotions cause in an audience member.[4] According to Aristotle, emotions vary from person to person, therefore he stresses the importance of understanding specific social situations in order to successfully utilize pathos as a mode of persuasion.[4] Here, pathos becomes a mode of persuasion and it is from this point of view that Aristotle defines all that is related to pathos, such as the emotions that are appealed through speech making, as persuasive technique.[5] To further his theory, Aristotle identifies the introduction and the conclusion as the two most important places for an emotional appeal in any persuasive argument.[5]

Alternative views on pathos

Scholars have discussed the different interpretations of Aristotle’s views of

  • The dictionary definition of pathos at Wiktionary

External links

  1. ^ Robyn Walker. Strategic Business Communication: For Leaders. Google Books. 
  2. ^ Robert Wardy, "Mighty Is the Truth and It Shall Prevail?", in Essays on Aristotle's Rhetoric, Amélie Rorty (ed), University of California Press, 1996, ISBN 0-520-20228-7, p. 64.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Aristotle, and George Alexander Kennedy. Aristotle On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. New York: Oxford UP, 1991. Print. p.119
  4. ^ a b c Aristotle; Bizzell, Patricia; Herzberg, Bruce (2001). On Rhetoric (Second ed.). New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's. 
  5. ^ a b Lee, Irving (12/6/1939). "Some Conceptions on Emotional Appeal in Rhetorical Theory". Speech Monographs 6 (1): 66–86. 
  6. ^ a b Fortenbaugh, W. W. Aristotle's Rhetoric on Emotions. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1974. Print. p.232.
  7. ^ Campbell, George, and Lloyd F. Bitzer. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1963. Print.p.81-89.
  8. ^ a b c Anonymous; Bizzell, Patricia; Herzberg, Bruce (2001). Rhetorica ad Herennium. Bedford/ St.Martins. 
  9. ^ a b Kennedy, George (1963). The Art of Persuasion in Greece. Princeton University Press. 
  10. ^ a b Gorgias; Bizzell, Patricia; Bruce, Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition (Second Edition). Encomium of Helen. 
  11. ^ Plato; Bizzell, Patricia; Herzberg, Bruce. The Rhetorical Tradition Second Edition). Gorgias. Bedford/ St. Martin's. 
  12. ^ a b Plato; Bizzell, Patricia; Herzberg, Bruce (2001). The Rhetorical Tradition (Second Edition). Phaedrus. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin's. 
  13. ^ a b c Gardiner, Norman (1937). Feeling and Emotion: A History of Theories. New York: American Book Co. 
  14. ^ a b Golden, James; Corbett, Edward (1990). The Rhetoric of Blair, Campbell, and Whately. SIU Press. 


See also

[13] Campbell, by drawing on the theories of rhetoricians before him, drew up a contemporary view of Pathos that incorporates the psychological aspect of emotional appeal. An orator’s reliance on emotional appeal is evident in modern-day speechmaking, but this technique is no longer referred to as emotional appeal; it is instead psychological.[14] Furthermore, Campbell introduced the importance of the audience’s imagination on and will on emotional persuasion that is equally as important as basic understanding of an argument.[14] Campbell argues that belief and persuasion depend heavily on the force of an emotional appeal.[13]. The book synthesized emotions and neurology and introduced the concept that action is a result of impression. Hartley determined that emotions drive people to react to appeals based on circumstance, but also passions made up of cognitive impulses.Observations on Man, entitled David Hartley Campbell relied heavily on a book written by physician [13]

Contemporary pathos

Another philosopher to discuss emotion appeal in rhetoric was Plato. Plato preceded Aristotle and therefore laid the groundwork, as did other sophists, for Aristotle to theorize the concept of pathos. In Gorgias, Plato discusses pleasure versus pain in the realm of pathos though in a fictional conversation between Gorgias and Socrates. The dialogue between several ancient rhetors that Plato created centers around the value of rhetoric, however, the men do incorporate aspects of pathos in their responses. Gorigas, discredits pathos and instead promotes the use of ethos in persuasion.[11] In another of Plato’s texts, Phaedrus, his discussion of emotions is more pointed, however still he does not outline exactly how emotions manipulate an audience.[12] Plato discusses the danger of emotions in oratory. He argues that emotional appeal in rhetoric should be used as the means to an end and not the point of the discussion.[12]

[10] The concept of emotional appeal existed in rhetoric long before Aristotle’s

Pathos before Aristotle

[8] Additionally, the text impresses the importance of invoking kindness, humanity and sympathy upon the hearer. Finally, the author suggests that The Appeal to Pity be brief for “nothing dries more quickly than a tear.”[8] The Appeal to Pity, as it is classified in Rheotica ad Herrenium, is a means to conclude by reiterating the major premise of the work and tying while incorporating an emotional sentiment. The author suggests ways in which to appeal to the pity of the audience: “We shall stir pity in our hearers by recalling vicissitudes of future; by comparing the prosperity we once enjoyed with our present adversity; by entreating those whose pity we seek to win, and by submitting ourselves to their mercy.”[8] of an unknown author theorizes that the conclusion is most important place in a persuasive argument to consider emotions such as mercy or hatred, depending on the nature of the persuasion.Rhetorica ad Herrenium In 84 BC [7]

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