The Art of Persuasion continuing on from the first post I made the other day, using the art of rhetoric within the art of persuasion. I wrote about the elements behind Pathos which is argument by emotion. Today I’m moving on to Logos, which is argument by logic. All argument should not be dictated by logic, as I’m sure many of you know from many an argument in the past you’ve had with family or in particular women, logic will never be your friend and will always see a rising anger in those who you are discussing with.
Deduction: You want to start with your proof and work towards the conclusion, the tools to enable you to do this part of Logos are such:
Commonplace: This is what you need to determine about your audience, the view that it holds in common, to shift their point of view you need to start from their position, not yours. Use it as your argument’s start off point. Remember a commonplace is a belief or rule of thumb not a fact. Different groups have different commonplaces, when I say “The pen is mightier than the sword” you immediately know what that implies. “The early bird catches the worm”, you know this applies to waking up earlier than most people. I know these are cliches but you’d probably want to avoid these! Movies use commonplaces to express characters without any speech, it’s using shared assumptions so that our attention span does not get taxed and the filmmaker can establish the characters and themes without explaining it all. Politicians label every bill or campaign with commonplaces so that anyone opposing those would seem out of touch. Using a commonplace makes the audience think that your opinion is only slightly different from their commonplace.
Enthymeme: Aristotle mastered this by using a logic sandwich as part of deduction and throwing in a commonplace, basing it on that rather than the truth. You start with the premise and apply it to each specific case to reach a conclusion.
“Socrates is mortal because he’s human.”
The complete syllogism would be the classic:
All humans are mortal. (major premise – assumed)
Socrates is human. (minor premise – stated)
Therefore, Socrates is mortal. (conclusion – stated)
It is deductive logic. Spelling it out like above could lose the ear of the audience, whilst the simple Enthymeme cuts out looking like a pedant in your act of persuasion.
Induction: You are arguing by using an example for proof instead of a commonplace, when the audience’s commonplace does not work for you, it’s great to use this.
100% of life forms that we know of depend on liquid water to exist.
Therefore, if we discover a new life form it will probably depend on liquid water to exist.
This is the first type of induction you could use, it’s using a fact to show your conclusion. The second type would be comparison. Using comparison instead of facts.
I’m not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I’m going to hell?
That’s Homer Simpson, he’s shown he’s a nice guy (works hard, loves kids) and having done that has headed straight to his conclusion, church wastes his time. It’s up to the audience to prove whether that is the case but the logic works. He’s using comparison (works harder and loves his kids than other church goers) to get across his logically inductive persuasion.
The third type is using a story, the founders of America were masters at this, in fact they were masters at rhetorical logos. They’d use stories exploring the past to come to conclusions, using commonplaces to start off with.
Concession: I love concession, it’s great banter and it’s basically agreeing with a point to use it against your opponent. You take a little hit to hit back even harder, it’s a powerful logical tactic which bridges truths to make a point. You master seducer’s will be used to this, couple of examples, first bad and the second persuasion via concession.
Wife: “We don’t go out anymore”
Husband: “What do you mean? We went out last thursday to …, last friday to …..”
Wife: “We don’t go out anymore”
Husband: “That’s because I want you all to myself but as a matter of fact I was going to ask you let’s go try the new seafood restaurant in ….”
My favourite one, comes from one of Britain’s greats.
Lady Astor: “Winston, if you were my husband I’d flavor your coffee with poison”
Churchill: “Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it”
You’ve got to be sure you’re capable of this rapid response humour.
You’ll all be aware of this and reframing, using a framing strategy you can find the audiences commonplaces. Define the issue broadly appealing to the values of the audience. Deal with the specific item using future tense. See the two examples below, the first normal, the second a better framing of the situation.
“Why are you always working so late?”
“So you have food on your table”
“Why are you always working so late?”
“I’m working late so we can go on holiday”
If fact work in your favour then use them but if they don’t redefine the terms instead, if this does not work, accept your opponents facts but argue that your opponent’s argument is less important than it seems or claim the discussion is irrelevant like a feminist. Lawyers are brilliant at redefining and have it down to an instinct. This is part of your definition strategy where you are controlling the language used in your argument, Wayne from Wayne’s World does this brilliantly using redefinition.
Garth, marriage is a punishment for shoplifting in some countries
Connotations behind the word ‘marriage’ has been changed in people’s mind, it now feels like criminal justice rather than something lovely and adult.
Definition Jujitsu is another part of Framing as persuasion. It’s using an opponent’s insult/term and it’s connotation, then defending it as a positive thing. It’s very similar to agreeing and amplifying.
Definition Judo makes use of contrasting terms that make your opponents look bad. Mark Antony displays this by calling Brutus an honorable man many times in the context of Caesar’s assassination, so much so that honorable starts to sound like an accusation.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise himFor Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men-- Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral. He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man.Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man.Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man.I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, Who, you all know, are honourable men: I will not do them wrong; I rather choose To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you, Than I will wrong such honourable men.I fear I wrong the honourable men Whose daggers have stabb'd Caesar; I do fear it.Fourth Citizen They were traitors: honourable men!
The crowd get angered and are ready to kill Brutus and company. The Art of Persuasion through Logos is a big topic and I’ll continue it on in a third post.