Rhetoric is one of the most important functions of language. For better or for worse, how we use our words gives us a certain power to achieve a certain goal. According to Aristotle, rhetoric is “the art of seeing the available means of persuasion.” When you think about it, we’re subject to rhetoric all the time – commercials, political speeches, even cereal boxes – we’re regularly inundated with someone’s efforts to persuade us towards an end (buying a product, casting a vote, etc).
There a variety of rhetorical devices, all designed as ways to manipulate words in order to achieve a desired effect. And while there are many different methods, Aristotle defined three main rhetorical categories, or appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos. Rhetorical devices can be a kind of game; choosing particular words for a particular effect is a fun way to test our skills in writing fluency and effectiveness. If you’ve ever wondered about what rhetoric is and how it works, we’ve got a great introductory video to share with you. In it, you will learn more about Aristotle’s three methods of ethos, logos, and pathos, and also understand why it is important for us to be able to recognize when these are being directed towards us!