Dear Why Team member,
When our “life”- boat becomes unmoored, untied from that which is solid, we become adrift, and are much more at mercy to all the waves that come upon us.
Recently, I was challenged with a powerful thought; I was told that logos without Pathos is meaningless. (definitions provided below)
After considerable thought, I agree that the absence of Pathos can provide “less meaning” to a listener, but this does not mean that logos alone does not provide important value and often helpful context for meaning.
“We are entitled to our own opinions (pathos), but not to our own facts (logos)”
- Patrick Moynihan
I love wisdom from ancient teachers; their teachings can act as a mooring for each of us, insights on which we can tie our “life”- boat so that we are not so easily washed away by the next wave. And frankly, we become more of a mooring for others as a result. Logos is what makes the human race superior, though emotions to often run the show.
Ask judges and the really good FBI hostage negotiators, and they’ll tell you that logos alone is often enough in tough situations. Even though hostage negotiators have to be really good at invoking the right Pathos in the kidnapper, they can rely on logos alone to navigate the negotiation.
Challenged with the statement:
“logos is meaningless without pathos” I am excited to share with you a Master Class article on writing:
The insights from this article, combined with teachings I have received from Dr. Roger Hall, have served me greatly on this topic and it’s my hope that these insights will serve you as well.
To begin, pulling directly from the article, let’s consider Aristotles’ teaching:
“What Are the Origins of Pathos?Pathos is originally a Greek word meaning “suffering” or “experience”. The concept of Pathos as a mode of persuasion originated with the Greek philosopher Aristotle. In his book Rhetoric, Aristotle describes three primary modes of persuasion: Pathos, egos and logos. Aristotle writes that Pathos is a means of awakening people’s emotions in order to sway their opinion towards that of the speaker.”
Now let’s go deeper with more insights from the article:
“How Is Pathos Affected by Ethos and Logos?When employing Pathos as a means of persuasion, it’s important to balance it out with the use of ethos or logos. Arguing based on emotion alone can lead to flawed arguments, also known as logical fallacies. Oftentimes writers can appeal to emotion when the logic of their argument is faulty, or they lack credibility or knowledge in the subject they are addressing.
I find it interesting that Pathos is found in the word Pathological; this may speak to the importance of Logos and Ethos alongside Pathos.
Merriam-Webster’s’ definition for pathological:
“being such to a degree that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal”
Here is a challenge for all of us members of the Why Team, who leverage the question “why?” to gain greater understanding of our lives and the world around us:
Why Learn from the ancients?
To gain wisdom on how best to help ourselves, and our fellow man, to bring about positive change. To become more of the solution than contributing to the problems that have brought so much dis-ease.
How might we serve to bring loving conversation and solutions when we encounter so much leaning toward Pathos? How may we enter the conversation with a bit more logos and ethos?
To begin, let us first notice our own rhetoric and the way we deliver it; seeking to be the change we want to see, as Gandhi invites us to do.
Are our words building up or tearing down? If a video were taken of you during your discourse with another, on a difficult subject, and upon playback of the video, the sound was shut off, what would your face and physical movements reveal?
Love or Fear?
Read more the ancient teachings that have stood the test of time, serving humans for over two thousand years, answering so many of our why questions; their wisdom should not be taken lightly least we find ourselves adrift.
Consider the concerns Plato had regarding an over-abundance of Pathos. You might find this insight appropriate for our current day and age (also from the article):
“Plato, Aristotle’s predecessor, took a somewhat skeptical view of Pathos. Plato argued that Pathos should be used more sparingly than other forms of rhetoric. Plato argued that an emotional appeal could be misused to manipulate audiences and suggested that appeals to logic or character were more beneficial to the public discourse.”
Humility can let in more learning.
My first book is titled:
“Don’t Believe Everything You Think”. Consider doing more research on your assumptions - consider more the sources of your information. To gain more humility and understanding regarding our impressions of the world, a must read is “Factfulness” by Hans Rosling. Filled with logos and ethos, the thing I love most from Hans is his deep desire to understand how we are led astray. His compassionate Pathos makes his book an all the more amazing and important work.
I am so grateful for the challenge I received regarding the idea that “logos without pathos is meaningless” as it spurred me to ask: “Why?”. As stated, I agree that without Pathos there is less meaning and less connection, but as in all things, moderation is called for with the help of logos and ethos if we are to be productive as a people, a community and a society.
This week consider reflecting more on these teachings from the ancients.
It is my hope that their wisdom can help us all find additional mooring in the midst of these turbulent times in which we live.
Make it a great week!