Aristotle on Modes of Persuasion

The more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, here are the wise words of Aristotle on the modes of persuasion.

“Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds;

  1. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker,
  2. The second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind,
  3. The third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself.

Persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible. We believe good men more fully and more readily than others: this is true generally whatever the question is, and absolutely true where exact certainty is impossible and opinions are divided. This kind of persuasion, like the others, should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. It is not true, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses.

Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgments when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile. It is towards producing these effects, as we maintain, that present-day writers on rhetoric direct the whole of their efforts. This subject shall be treated in detail when we come to speak of the emotions.

Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.”

 

Blumsack Brown BackgroundAs a coach, trainer and consultant, Larry Blumsack partners with people and organizations on the move and those already there to accelerate their communication, presentation and speaking skills to be on par with their ambition. Through one-on-one coaching and group training Larry helps leaders and aspiring leaders elevate their presence and communication skills to influence more people, sell more products-services-ideas and inspire others more successfully than they ever imagined.

Larry is the bestselling author of Face-to-Face is The Ultimate Social Media and founder of Zoka Institute and Zoka Training®. Zoka Training® — Mind/Voice/Body/Mindfulness in sync — is the result of Larry’s 45 years as a coach, acting teacher, actor, voice-over artist, theater and TV director/producer, radio & TV commentator and show host, speaker, trainer, serial entrepreneur, and syndicated columnist. Larry was a founding member of the theater department at Northeastern University.

One response to “Aristotle on Modes of Persuasion”

  1. Bob Burke says:

    Can we define Ethos as “Authority”, Pathos as “Empathy”, and Logos as “logical presentation” – 3 elements necessary for persuasion ?
    Bob
    Thanks for your help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.