How does Socrates use ethos, pathos, and logos in Plato’s Apology of Socrates?

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Ethos, pathos, and logos are all examples of rhetoric, which is the art of persuasion. All three are ably deployed by Plato in his reconstruction of Socrates's defense speech in Apology

First, let us look at ethos . This is a way of appealing to an audience on...

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Ethos, pathos, and logos are all examples of rhetoric, which is the art of persuasion. All three are ably deployed by Plato in his reconstruction of Socrates's defense speech in Apology

First, let us look at ethos. This is a way of appealing to an audience on ethical grounds to try and persuade them of the integrity of the orator's moral character. In making his speech, Socrates is keen to avoid the impression that he thinks himself superior to the members of the citizen jury. To do this, he starts by disavowing his reputation as a wise man. He recalls the time when the Delphic oracle pronounced him as the wisest man in the world. Socrates attempts to clarify what this means by saying that he is only wise insofar as he admits that he does not know everything—nor does he pretend to.

Socrates also uses ethos as a means of blackening the name of his accusers, calling them liars and sophists. He does not just want to defend his own good name, he also wants to attack the moral character of his accusers.

As Socrates is a philosopher, it is inevitable that he should use logos or logical argument in his speech. He uses this most effectively in his cross-examination of Meletus, who has accused Socrates of being an atheist and of corrupting the youth of Athens by introducing them to false gods. However, Socrates logically argues that if he is an atheist, how can he be guilty of introducing false gods at the same time?

Finally, we have pathos, an appeal to the audience's emotions. Socrates tries to claim that he is a loyal citizen of Athens and that his motivation in philosophizing has always been for the greater good of the city-state. His prime concern is for the moral health of Athens. Socrates's way of going about his business as a philosopher may not be in everyone's taste, but he employs his philosophical method to shake his fellow Athenians out of their complacency so that they too may reflect upon the big questions and lead more moral lives.

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