What is Rhetoric?


Rhetoric refers to the study and uses of written, spoken and visual language. It investigates how language is used to organize and maintain social groups, construct meanings and identities, coordinate behavior, mediate power, produce change, and create knowledge. Rhetoricians often assume that language is constitutive (we shape and are shaped by language), dialogic (it exists in the shared territory between self and other), closely connected to thought (mental activity as "inner speech") and integrated with social, cultural and economic practices. Rhetorical study and written literacy are understood to be essential to civic, professional and academic life.

Rhetoric began 2500 years ago as the study of the forms of communication and argument essential to public, political and legal life in Ancient Greece. It has since evolved a rich and diverse body of research, texts, and pedagogies.[5]
The goal of argumentative writing is to persuade your audience that your ideas are valid, or more valid than someone else's. The Greek philosopher Aristotle divided the means of persuasion, appeals, into three categories—Ethos, Pathos, Logos.[6]


The persuasive appeal to an audience, more specifically, to appeal to the criteria that the audience sets for you.[2] In other words, this relates to the ability of the presenter to show his or her knowledge and credentials for the work that he or she is doing.


Pathos is the appeal to an audiences emotions in order to lead them to a conclusion or action.[3] By appealing to the emotions of an audience, the presenter is able to create an importance and to summon action upon his audience, causing his or her presentation to become stronger.


Logos is the appeal to a person's logic and reason.[4] The use of logos by a reader will put information and evidence in a logical manner, guiding the reader to a conclusion without faulty logic or opinion (in the evidence presented).

2. Burton, Gideon O. "Ethos." Silva Rhetoricae:. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://rhetoric.byu.edu/>.
3. Burton, Gideon O. "Pathos." Silva Rhetoricae:. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://rhetoric.byu.edu/>.
4. Burton, Gideon O. "Logos." Silva Rhetoricae:. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <http://rhetoric.byu.edu/>.
5. About UsWhat Is Rhetoric?" What Is Rhetoric. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.<http://rhetoric.sdsu.edu/about_us/what_is_rhetoric.htm>
6. Ethos, Pathos, and Logos." Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.<http://courses.durhamtech.edu/perkins/aris.html>


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