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Rhetoric, Aristotle’s: Pathos

In Rhetoric, Aristotle defined pathos in terms of a public speaker putting the audience in the right frame of mind by appealing to the audience’s emotions. He further defined emotion as states of mind involving pleasure and pain, which in turn influence our perceptions. Pathos is one of three types of rhetorical appeals for persuading an audience; the others are logos (logic or the argument itself) and ethos (character or trustworthiness of the speaker). While Aristotle developed lengthy explanations of pathos, he also cautioned against appeals to emotion. He argued that appeals to emotion should not be used to influence (distort) audiences’ opinions, comparing using emotional appeals to influence audiences with the analogy of measuring distance with a crooked ruler. Rather, the speaker should focus ...

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