Aristotle’s 3 Approaches to Persuasion

What does a man born in 384 BCE have to teach the modern writer? A lot. When I teach persuasive writing, participants are often amazed to learn that Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who taught the world about everything from chemistry to metaphysics, also contributed mightily to the study of rhetoric. Rhetoric is using language effectively and persuasively. And in this, Aristotle’s philosophy is as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago. 

Aristotle taught his students the art of persuasion. Today’s business people use persuasion daily. Managers must persuade employees to follow through on projects, entrepreneurs convince investors to fund their start-ups and sales professionals persuade prospects to buy. In short, the ability to persuade is a core element of business success. 

Aristotle identified three possible approaches to persuasive arguments:

1. Ethos: The credibility of the speaker or author.

2. Pathos: The power of feelings and stories.

3. Logos: The power of logic and…

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This article was written by Elizabeth Danziger and originally published on