When people hear the term Philosophy they often think of either a course they didn’t ever want to take, or that blow-off subject about a bunch of old dudes. What most don’t realize is that they are being fed philosophy in many ways, even by pop culture.
I hope I can safely assume that everyone has heard the word Logic. That word comes from another one, Logos, which has many meanings through history but the one that I want to discuss today is the one that Aristotle gave it.
Before I lose you, did you know that the film The Matrix models Plato’s Allegory of the cave? Aristotle was Plato’s student, and The Republic has given a lot to pop culture, from dystopias to utopias. If you read The Hunger Games, the idea of a society divided by what their people produce or do for a living is right out of The Republic.
Rhetoric has become even a bad word in modern politics. I think a lot of the people that use the word don’t even understand where it came from.
Aristotle wrote the treatise on rhetoric. So before I am accused of using long words that I don’t understand, treatise is like an essay but more in depth; think of writing a thesis. So Aristotle is the dude who wrote the handbook on how to bullshit!
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.
While all of this has in some ways been tainted by our negative connotation of politics, it is not just about that. You can pretty much argue about anything, and the ancient philosophers used to. We don’t do that enough. We almost sit complacent on the thought that everything has been figured out for us. But, logos is what puts humans above the other animals.
So what the heck is Logos?
Well, on his bullshit handbook, Aristotle talked about the modes of persuasion: Logos, pathos and ethos.
Every single time you are trying to convince someone of something using language you are using logos. When you tell your spouse that you should eat at closest and cheapest restaurant you are using speech laced with logic.
When you try to convince someone that you have high moral character (or know more than they do, LOL) you are using ethos. So this is kind of what preachers or a college professor. We listen to them because they should know better than us, that is how they persuade us.
Pathos is when you try to appeal to someone’s emotions. Trying to put someone in an specific state of mind. I think this one is the one that has given politics a bad name, because you can use fear to drive your point home. Any human emotion really, so even a comedian is using a form of persuasion.
I often use pathos and metaphors when talking about a subject. Being able to relate is something that makes others able to understand the message you are trying to convey. That said, nothing beats logic. I don’t think that until you have an argument and simmer it down to pure logic is it really resolved or put to rest.
A lot of my conversations with my friends lately have been all about the logos. And there is a post about faith and worship coming up thanks to one of those conversations. Hopefully this post can help frame some things to come. Maybe it just shows to my teacher that at least I was not sleeping during my entire philosophy class.