Course Journal

Reflection – 

I believe the following journal entries were and are important for my development as an active citizen and my written communication skills. These entries derived from Jay Heinrichs book Thank You for Arguing have taught me about rhetoric and how it is used in society. Specifically the entries and book opened my eyes to the use rhetorical tools by others; especially, through different modes of communication as well as how these tools are used to persuade. These journal entries taught me about ethos, pathos, logos, kairos, controlling the mood and high ground, logical fallacies, synecdoche, metonymy, etc. The journal entries were actually fairly enjoyable to complete for me personally as I enjoyed the book they are derived from.

Journal Entry: Chapters 4, 5, 6

The text discusses Aristotle’s three tools of persuasion; argument by character known as ethos, argument by logic known as logos, and argument by emotion known as pathos (38-40). To gain a better understanding of each tool of persuasion one must know more about each. Logos desires that the person you are arguing with be made do “desire your choice and commit to the action you want-you need all the assets in the room, and one of the best resources comes straight from your opponent’s mouth”(42). Pathos deals with the mood of your audience and attempts to use sympathy to do so (44). Ethos which Aristotle argues is “the most important appeal of all” deals with character attributes; however, the text focuses on the “concession side of ethos called decorum”(45-46).

Ethos, being the most important appeal according to Aristotle deserves more elaboration. In the text’s case an entire chapter is dedicated to the portion of ethos known as decorum. The text argues that “an agreeable ethos matches the audience’s expectations for a leader’s tone, appearance, and manners”(47). Decorum persuades your audience to “do as I say and as I do” (47). Many of the main points of decorum coincide with those in the business world today such as “voice control, gestures, clothing, and timing, as well as manors” (48). The text argues that “decorum follows the audience’s rules”(49). Therefore, it is important to come to an audience and appeal to its customs instead of pushing your own. The same decorum may not work for multiple people even if they are addressing the same audience (50). Clothing and appearance are an important part of Ethos; however, language and how you use it is also important (54). Persuasion is about the “beliefs and expectations of my audience” (55). Your audience’s love is earned through your decorum (56). Ethos also focuses on the idea that you want your audience to be receptive, attentive, and like and trust you (57). Aristotle lists three qualities of persuasive ethos that he believed were essential. These three qualities are virtue/cause, practical wisdom, and disinterest (57). Virtue is “the key element of identity – of what makes a person feel unique, or a member of a group feel like he belongs” (63). Chapter 6 in the text delves into a number of argument tools as well such as bragging, character references, tactical flaw, and changing your position. The Eddie Haskell ploy is noted in the text as the ability to change ones mind when faced by undeniable information in opposition of ones beliefs (66). The text notes a brief guide to “pump up your rhetorical value” that discusses bragging, getting someone else to brag for you, reveal a tactical flaw, and switch sides when the powers that be do (68).

Journal Entry: Chapters 9, 11, 12

Chapter 9 of the text covers the ideas of controlling and changing the mood of your intended audience. To set the tone of this chapter Jay Heinrichs argues that “The persuader bears the burden not just of proof but of emotion as well” (85). The person who wishes to persuade others must first learn that the feelings of the audience are more important than their own especially when attempting to change their mood. Aristotle believed that it was preferable to use a person’s beliefs to change their emotions; however, he also believed that a good story is an effective mood changer (86-87). “When you argue emotionally, speak simply” (88). A persuader should utilize this tactic when being emotional with an audience. “Less is more, and in pathetic terms, less evokes more” (88). When addressing an audience let the emotion build gradually (89). When attempting to improve your ethos humor should be a top priority; however, it typically begets inaction (90). Regarding your audience’s mood “anger, patriotism, and emulation” can prompt action out of an audience (91). Jay Heinrichs goes into further detail on these emotions and how effective they are at evoking action amongst an audience citing things such as the revolutionary war. Generally, the latter half of the chapter discusses different tools for changing the mood of the audience and how they may be used/implemented.

Chapter 11 discusses the idea of the high ground and how a persuasive person must “convince your audience that the choice you offer is the most advantageous” (110). Heinrichs argues that your audience’s views, beliefs, and values should be the starting point for any argument (112). This idea is known as a “commonplace” argument or a “viewpoint your audience holds in common” (112). The idea of the commonplace argument is covered in detail in the text where Heinrichs discusses examples of it in action. For instance, he discusses his commonplace with his family and the “You do whatever the hell you want, sweetheart” statement which brings a “smile” amongst his family; however, a teacher of his daughters is not a part of the commonplace and therefor she does not understand (114). From an outsider’s perspective your group and its commonplace may be strange or unconventional to them due to their commonplace. However, the latter half of the chapter touches on the concept of using commonplace and applying it to a something that an audience may desire. In turn, the text also discusses how to use this to defeat the opposition to said desire.

Chapter 12 discusses the idea of persuasion on one’s own terms and the necessary tools to achieve them. Jay Heinrichs argues that one of these tools is known as framing which “sets the bounds of discussion” it also helps to “reset any disagreement” (120). Heinrichs argues that framing is “all about swapping around terms” (121). The text discusses a tool of framing known as commonplace words. In essence, these are the “words that form commonplaces” (122). Words can create common ground for people to rally behind. Heinrichs discusses the idea of definition jujitsu and how to use it one must “accept your opponent’s term and its connotation; then defend it as a positive thing” (127). However, defining issues is another issue as well. The text discusses that “defining an issue means attaching words to it” and having these words define the issue when it is brought up (129). The text discusses stance and how it is basically a series of countermeasures in place so that when one is toppled there are backups (131). Heinrichs argues that you should use “fact, definition, quality, and relevance in descending order” and that “the facts work best; fall back through definition, quality, and relevance until one works for you” (132).

Journal Entry: Chapters 13, 14, 16

Chapter thirteen in the text attempts to further hone our ability to control an argument. Jay Heinrichs discusses how to use logos in an argument when you do not have factual knowledge on your side. “Here’s where logos comes to the rescue. It allows you to skip the facts when you have to, focusing instead on rational strategy, definition, and other subtle tactics” (136). Heinrichs also discusses dialectic and how it may not be practical for average conversations and points out how conversations that might not work here may work fine rhetorically (136). Heinrichs argues that the reader must learn that from a rhetorical standpoint the audiences opinion is greater than or equal to factual information (137). The chapter also mentions syllogism and how Aristotle made it as boring as possible. However, it also discusses how syllogism may be used in places such as marketing (138). Heinrichs then discusses how Aristotle streamlined syllogism into enthymeme where the first step is used to persuade (139). The chapter then goes on to discuss deduction and induction. The chapter describes deduction as starting general and becoming specific, “the premise proves the examples” (140). Induction works the opposite to deduction in that it works from the specific towards general, “the examples prove the premise” (140). The chapter then goes on to illustrate how induction and deduction work in detail and discusses how commonplaces fit in with each (141-148).

Chapter fourteen discusses fallacy and the seven deadly sins of logic. Heinrichs discusses logical fallacy and attempts to help break it down for the reader citing them as essentially “bad logic” (151). Heinrichs brakes the seven deadly sins of logic down into categories. The first is bad proof which is the home of three sins “false comparison, bad example, and ignorance as proof” (152). The second category is wrong number of choices in which a single sin called “false choice” presides (152). The third and final category is disconnect between proof and conclusion which houses four sins “tautology, the red herring, or the wrong ending” (153). False comparison is chapter fourteen’s first deadly sin; it can be summed up as the whole is not directly equal to it’s parts (154-158). The second sin is the bad example; it can be summed up as “examples that fail to prove the conclusion” (158). Ignorance as proof is the third deadly sin; basically, “what we cannot prove, cannot exist” (160). The fourth sin is known as the tautology where the proof and conclusion are essentially the same (161). The false choice is the fifth sin; basically, this is where not all examples are presented (162-164). The sixth sin is the red herring in which it confuses the audience by switching arguments/issues (164). Finally, the seventh sin is the wrong ending; basically, where the proof does not support the choice (165).

Chapter sixteen discusses how to use ethos to spot manipulation. Heinrichs argues that to spot manipulation we must return to the roots of ethos: “disinterest, virtue, and practical wisdom” (190). The chapter argues that “ethos starts with what the audience needs. The persuader makes you believe he can meet those needs better than you or anyone else” (190). Spotting certain disconnects and disinterest in argument should lead someone to distrust the ethos of the person doing the arguing (193). Heinrichs argues that virtue makes a “good lie detector” when dealing in ethos (194). Something to take from this chapter is that “a virtuous choice is a moderate one” (195). However, the moderate choice can be manipulated.

Journal Entry: Chapters 20, 22

Chapter twenty lays out its key points relatively early on in the chapter then elaborates on them throughout. In this case I would just like to highlight a few of the main points I took from the chapter. First and foremost are the concepts of metaphor, synecdoche, and metonymy. In the chapter Heinrichs defines metaphor as “the pretend trope” (236). I interpret this as perceiving something and then pretending it is something different. In the chapter the I enjoyed the example used to illustrate metaphor in action “my car is a beast” (236). Synecdoche is cited as “the scaling trope” in the reading (236). I perceive this as when you take something and/or someone and make it/them represent a group or larger concept. To my knowledge this can be flipped as well to have the larger thing represent something smaller. Metonymy is covered extensively in the chapter with many examples. Metonymy is defined in the chapter as “the sharing trope”(236). When I want to try to wrap my head around this trope I think of using different words that may represent something else. An example I always think of is the pen is mightier than the sword. In this case the pen and sword represent two different things without just outright saying them. The chapter also discusses hyperbole, profanity, and irony. Hyperbole is basically summed up as exaggeration by the chapter (244). Profanity in the chapter is summed up nicely by “curse words” and further so “it brings the powers we fear the most down on the people or things we hate” (246-248). Irony is briefly touched upon as well and I will basically sum it up as something leading to another that may seem contradictory. A example I always think of when discussing irony is from a news story I once heard where a PETA member illegally released animals from a pin and was killed by them. *I love animals by the way.*

Chapter 22 in the text discusses identity strategy. I want to keep my thoughts concise when it comes to identity strategy as the chapter discusses it with great detail. One thing I took from the chapter is that identity strategy can be used for good or bad. For example, the chapter cites that identity strategy could be manipulative and used nefariously by citing how it is used by the “bad guys” in our society today (261). On the other hand identity strategy could be used in a better more responsible means; for example, to “bring his audience inside the joke while distancing the victim” (262). In this case it is used not to hurt someone but instead to try to align the audiences way of thinking with the speaker. The chapter also discusses “code words” which can be used to elicit an expected response in a certain crowd (262-263). Relating to code words is code grooming which is cited as basically being “irony” (264). The chapter also talks about code inoculation which is where you become self aware of code words used to identify your group so you can spot them when they are used (266).

Journal Entry: Chapters 25, 28

Chapter 25 discusses using media/multi modal to strengthen your points/message. This chapter is relatively brief and concise with its subject matter. In the chapter Heinrichs stresses “choosing a medium: timing, the kind of appeal (ethos, pathos, or logos), and the sort of gestures you want to make” (292). He also discusses gestures “both literally and figuratively” and how to use them with your chosen medium and appeal (292). Heinrichs also discusses the five senses and how each “has its own persuasive quality” and how they are used alongside mediums (294). Kairos is also discussed within the chapter. Wrapping up the chapter is a useful summery which states “when you seize the moment, make sure you use the right medium for your argument – one with proper emphasis on ethos, pathos, or logos, with perfect timing for the moment” (299). Lastly the chapter discusses the best use of the sense with regard to ethos, pathos, and logos; sight “is mostly pathos and ethos”, sound “is the most logical sense”, smell, taste, and touch “are almost purely emotional” (299).

Chapter 26 discusses writing persuasively. The chapter mentions storytelling and how “a story does more than entertain. It helps put the reader into cognitive ease, that most persuadable of states” (333). The chapter also discusses the use of paradox. The chapter discusses ethos and how a personal essay is the “most persuasive kind of essay” (334). The chapter talks about Montaigne who “argued for a humble, science-loving, tolerantly curious view of humanity” (334). The chapter also discusses the elements of a story such as epiphany, show your flaws, character, conflict, and suspense (338-346). To wrap up the chapter recaps tactical flow where you “endear yourself to the reader by revealing your imperfection” (346). Theme twist where you “make the audience believe you’re just restating the boring common wisdom; then apply a bit of contrarian attitude” (346).

*Referenced page numbers are from Jay Heinrichs book Thank You for Arguing.*