You may have heard of the concept of logos when studying the English language, and you may also have wondered what it is used for. In this article, we are going to be looking at the meaning of logos and how it can be used in both spoken and written language. We will be doing this by taking a look at some examples of how it can function.
What Is Logos?
Logos is a word which is related to the word logic, this means plan or reason. This ties in perfectly with how logos functions as it is one of the three different types of persuasion which were set out by Aristotle. The other two types are pathos and ethos.
In simple terms, logos is a type of persuasion which appeals to people logic, therefore making it very effective during an argument or debate. You have likely seen logos being used in your day to day conversations many times without even realising it. Whenever you take part in or hear an argument in which the speaker is using logic to make their point-you are hearing logos in use. This is its main function in spoken language.
When used as a literary device, logos is employed as a way to appeal to the reader by using reason and logic, therefore not giving them much option but to agree with the statement or idea being presented. This makes it quite an effective method. Logos, when used as a literary device can be a simple sentence all the way through to a detailed argument, and anything in between.
Classification of Logos
There are various classifications of logos, these are as follows:
- Inductive reason is a way of using a specific piece of evidence as a way of putting across an argument when this proven evidence is presented it is the ultimate form of appeal.
- Deductive reason starts with a general argument which leads up to a specific point. The beginning general argument will use evidence to point towards the specific case in order to create a build up to it.
Examples of Logos In Spoken Language
As we mentioned, logos is used frequently in spoken language and the best way to fully understand its use is to take a look at some examples of times in which logos can be used in speech.
- You might employ the use of logos in an educational presentation. For example, if you were presenting information to inform people about a specific topic, of which you wanted them to believe, you might point to a logical example, such as “you cannot walk to Australia because you must cross the ocean.” This simple example shows evidence that supports the original statement which will appeal to the logical thinking of the audience.
- In a speech made to address women’s rights, the speaker uses logos to engage and appeal to the audience. Let’s take a look at an excerpt from this speech. “The man there said that women need to be helped into their carriage and be lifted over a ditch and to get the best place in any situation. There isn’t anyone who helps me into a carriage or over a mud pile, nor gives me the best place. But aren’t I a woman?”
- In the movie series, The Matrix, the character of the architect regularly uses logos as he simply states things in a logical sense, and nothing more.
- The movie Law of attraction uses logos during an exchange between the two main characters as one tries to convince the other that they are a good match due to them both being smart, intelligent people. This is a fact which cannot be denied and so appeals to the characters logical sense.
Examples of Logos In Literature
There have been countless occasions throughout history where writers have made use of logos as a literary device and this is evident in a lot of texts. We are now going to take a look at some examples of times it has been used in literature in order to gain a greater understanding of its function.
- In the novel, 1984 written by George Orwell, we can see the use of logos in many instances. One such example can be seen in the following passage. “At the end, this party’d announce that two plus two is five, and you’d need to believe it. It had been inevitable that this claim would be made by them at some point or another, their logical position demands it.”
- In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare uses logos as a way to allow his character of Portia to appeal to the logical senses when talking about their enemy being due their ‘pound of flesh.’ Let’s take a look at this passage. “Tarry little, there’s something else, the bond does not give a bit of blood. The expressed words were a pound of flesh. So take your bond and take the pound of flesh.”
- In Aristotles, The art of rhetoric, he uses logos in one of the most simple ways in the literature. “Man is mortal. Socrates is a man, and therefore he is mortal.”
- In Francis Bacon’s Of studies, he employs the use of logos very well in the following passage, “Reading makes a full man, and conference makes a ready man, writing a man who is exact.” This is a very good example as Bacon uses the most simple yet logical terms in his argument about what makes a man, which appeals strongly to the readers logic.
Logos is a way for a speaker or writer to appeal to their audience’s sense of logic and reason. This concept was laid out by the famous philosopher, Aristotle who created the idea of three different types of persuasion, the other two being pathos and ethos.
Ethos can be used in spoken language as a way to create a persuasive argument or debate but it can also be used as a literary device, whereby the writer can use logic and reason to persuade their reader to get on board with the train of thought presented in the piece of writing.