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The Rhetorical Triangle by Aristotle Speaker Audience Subject What is rhetoric? • The art or study of using language effectively and persuasively. [American Heritage College Dictionary] • “Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.” [Aristotle] Aristotle believed that from the world around them, speakers could: 1. observe how communication happens and 2. use that to develop sound and convincing arguments. • Aristotle said that when a rhetor (speaker) begins to consider how to compose a speech, he/she must take into account 3 elements: the subject, the audience, and the speaker. Speaker Audience Subject Subject The writer/speaker: • evaluates what he/she knows already and needs to know, • investigates perspectives (researches), and • determines kinds of evidence or proofs seem most useful (supports assertions with appropriate evidence). Audience The writer/speaker: • speculates about audience expectations and knowledge of subject, and • uses own experience and observation to help decide on how to communicate with audience. Speaker The writer/speaker uses: 1. who they are, 2. what they know and feel, and 3. what they’ve seen and done to find their attitudes toward a subject and their understanding of audience. Appeals The writer/speaker uses different approaches to influence the audience’s attitude toward the subject. These are: 1. Logos 2. Ethos 3. Pathos Logos The writer/speaker: • offers clear, reasonable premises and proofs, • develops ideas with appropriate details, and • makes sure readers can follow the progression of ideas. Ethos The writer/speaker uses it when: • he/she demonstrates that they are credible, good-willed, & knowledgeable and • he/she connects their thinking to the reader’s own ethical or moral beliefs. Audiences and speakers should assume the best intentions and most thoughtful search for truths. Pathos The writer/speaker: • draws on emotions and interests of readers and • highlights those emotions using 1) personal stories and observations to provoke audience’s sympathetic reaction and 2) figurative language to heighten emotional connections. “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy • calls attention to ethical qualities of the speaker and listener (ethos) • proposes a solution to the country’s problems by enlisting the citizens’ help (logos) • calls forth emotional patriotism (pathos) Context and Purpose Context: the situation in which writing and reading occur Purpose: the emerging aim that underlies many of the writer’s decisions Rhetorical Triangle Plus Speaker Context/Aim Audience Context/Aim Subject The importance of context (the situation in which writing and reading occur) is especially obvious in comedy and political writing. One reason comedy is difficult sometimes is that the events alluded to are no longer current for readers and the humor is missed. Students who understand context learn how and why they write differently in history class and English or biology. Different contexts (such as letters to the editor or study notes for other students) highlights how context can alter rhetorical choices in form and content. Intention (or aim) is key to rhetorical effectiveness. Words and forms carry writers’ intentions, but those aims can be miscommunicated. Intention is sometimes embodied in a thesis statement but is also carried throughout a piece and often changes. Visual rhetoric includes symbolic gestures, graphic designs, and action shots in films. For example: Why does Picasso use color and action in the way he does in Guernica?