Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Ethos is the power and trust that we automatically give to someone because of the authority we perceive they have. The character of the speaker, his believability and appeal drive his Ethos. We generally accept that what an authority figure says is true because we can't imagine that they are lying or wrong. It is important to establish Ethos immediately and can be very easily done by mentioning the credentials of the speaker or the long-term relationship consumers have with a certain company. To further break down this concept Aristotle says that to have Ethos you must establish wisdom, virtue and good sense. This is the sincerest form of Ethos but in the practical sense, Ethos is granted freely by the public, especially when one identifies himself with a respected organization, like the Church (Priests, Rabbis, or Reverends); the Education System (Professors, and Research Scientists.) or the speaker establishes that the consumers have trusted the organization pitching the claim for many years.


The Phoenix said...

I think ethos is the most vital component of communication. Without it, no one would listen to you anyway.

If you command ethos from your audience, you can make absolutely no sense...actually defy logic (logos)...and they will still believe you.

ObilonKenobi said...

True. In my opinion, Ethos is the prime component. Of course Ethos is not true or untrue it just is what we lend to a speaker. It is only true if the sudience lends you the ethos. SO if you're a fraud like say Jim Bakker the televangelist who was caught with Jessica Haln in his hotel room and millions of people lend you ethos then logos goes out the window. He used his ethos and my next post which is about Pathos to fool people into financing his fortune. (Religion is easily coopted toward evil uses. Can you think of a subject with more Pathos.) Or you can be like Alan Greenspan who has Ethos because he actually knows what he's talking about and people have given him that ethos based on past experience.

Kyle Stemen said...

I've got an example of where we give out ethos... Road signs.

I'm from Ohio, and I've often noticed this trend where there's a construction sign forcing trafic to go at 55mph, but yet there's no construction! The road is not being worked on. Someone just left barrels out because of laziness.

Another example: there are some legal rules for what constitutes a stop sign (sorry, I can't list them all). One thing is that a stop sign isn't a stop sign on private property. So most of those stop signs in parking lots aren't real stop signs.

Now I'm living in Washington. Every day on the way to work, I pass a "school zone". The problem is there is no school! The only cross walk in the "school zone" leads to something that as far as I can tell is just a house.