Appeal: PATHOS
Chapter 2

In Greek, "path" means feeling or disease.  In the case of argumentation, "path" means feeling.  This appeal is based on emotion.  Humans tend to be emotional, so this appeal tends to be used the most.  Caveat: do not rely solely on this appeal.  Pathos is needed in an argument, but pour it on too thick and you could repel the very audience you want to read your argument.  If you use too much anger, outrage, pity, audiences can shut down.

Think about the CLAIM of this argument.  Why is this too much?  Why would I object to this for an argumentative paper?  Two words: TOO MUCH.  I am probably not going to be open to this because I love animals.  As an arguer, you have to be aware of your audience, hence why you should stay away from the "touchy" or hot topics.  People rarely act or think rationally when emotions are stirred.  Even a fluent, expert arguer has an Achilles heel concerning pathos.  (As I typed this, an ASPCA commercial came on.  Dan changed it immediately because the pathos is TOO MUCH.)

Too Much or Just Enough?

Look at the following ad:

What do you notice first about the ad?  What is the CLAIM?  What was your first reaction?  Too much or just enough pathos?  Arguments are also visual.  Look at the arrangement of the ad.  What do you notice first?  Second?  What is the effect of the arrangement?  

Too much or just enough?

Do the activity on page 33 using the following "hot topics": Abortion, Religion, Same-sex Unions, Politics.  

How to Make a Connection

How can pathos be used to bridge a gap with your audience?  Used correctly, pathos is a powerful appeal.  Relating similar experiences builds the bridge.  According to former President Clinton, you want the audience to know you "feel their pain."  You need to establish you know the issue in depth.  Read the Steve Jobs segment on page 34.  He makes a connection with the audience, reassuring them everybody fails, but sometimes it is for the best.  Almost every one can relate to this because life is fickle and can hand us something we did not expect.

Another way to make a connection is to help readers identify with your experiences.  

And, using emotions can open up an audience that is not interested in or is opposed to the topic.  


How do you deal with a touchy topic?  How do you deal with an audience that is not open to your other ways of using pathos?  Try humor.  If you are good with your wit and have a decent sense of humor, try using it.  (Stay away from raunchy humor.  Once again, you never know who will be offended.)  South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, Simpsons are shows that cater to humor.  However, even these shows can lean toward the raunchy side and offend the audience.  

Comedians present arguments with their monologues.  Sometimes their humor is raunchy and offensive.  Be careful with this type of humor.

What argument is presented?  What role does humor play in relation to the argument?


Read the following:

What is Barry's argument concerning men?  Women?  What are his humorous points?  How does this "soften the blow" of the argument?

Be Honest

Whatever method of pathos you decide to use, be sure you are honest and forthright with your audience.  If the audience smells a rat, you have lost your credibility with the audience.


On page 40, do exercise 1, labeling the emotions used.

On page 41, do exercise 4.  (Instructions will follow.)

Which one is effective?

Look at the two commercials about very "touchy" topics.  Which one is more effective?

On That Note...