In argumentative writing, your goal is to persuade the audience of the validity of your ideas – either on their own or in comparison to the ideas of others. Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, introduced three categories of persuasive appeal, and these are Ethos, Pathos and Logos.
These three categories are widely used across a spectrum of professions, writing, photography and advertising being among them. To write a persuasive essay you need to understand how to use each of them individually as well as collectively to achieve your goals.
This is the ethical or credible appeal of the author, a utilization of the respectability of his or her character. People tend to believe those they revere and admire. Therefore, as a writer you must endeavour to convey the impression to the reader that you are a credible authority on the subject matter; that you are worthy of respect and worth listening to.
Pathos is persuasion via drawing on the reader’s emotions. There are thousands of examples of text from history till the present day that shows us the potency of Pathos in literature, or advertising. It is the art of manipulating the viewer’s sentiment through emotional appeal and response. It has proven to be very effective, and this is why it is so widely used, not just in literature but in the way we as humans interact with each other and conduct relationships.
Logos is persuasion by the use of reason and logic. Of all the three techniques, Logos is said to be the most important and it was Aristotle’s personal favourite. Logic is at the heart of any good argument and, more often than not, wins out in the end over anything else used in the debate of any kind. The importance of logic in an argument cannot be overstated.
In a brilliantly written essay, one should be able to combine all three to create an argument that would be impossible to ignore. Each on its own is powerful, but a combination of all three is formidable indeed. Of all of them, be most cautious with the use of Pathos. The reason for this is that humans are so different from each other that it is impossible to assume all would feel the same way about or agree on the argument you are making. When using Pathos in an essay, bring it down to the basics of humanity as much as possible; focusing on black and white instead of the numerous grey areas.