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Logos: Definition, How It Works and Examples In Writing

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If you have ever used logic in any writing or speaking, you have not just found an effective way to argue.

You were using Logos, one of the three modes of persuasion developed by Aristotle.

You may have heard of Logos before, but don’t know when or how to use it.

Here, you can find out what Logos is, learn writing tips, and discover what makes Logos one of the most powerful literary devices.

What Is Logos?

On a basic level, Logos is a Greek word that best translates as “reason.”

Logos has many meanings in Greek, some of which can be as broad as language or truth,” but most often, Logos means reason.

Logos, as Aristotle defines it, is the mode of convincing where the convincing content is the words themselves.

Also Known As:

  • Reason
  • Logic
  • Fact

Simple Definition: How to Explain Logos to a Child

Logos is using numbers, statistics, or well-known facts to back up the point you are trying to make.

By using Logos, you are trying to convince your audience that what you are saying is true.

Why Is Logos Used?

You typically won’t use Logos on its own.

There are all types of writers and types of content produced today, but writers typically use Logos in tandem with the other two modes of persuasion, Ethos and Pathos.

Logos creates a logical, rational resonance between the audience and the work.

Types of Logos

While Logos does have one goal, it can take more than one form.

Most people employ Logos by citing statistics, studies, or experimental findings.

  • Charts: Charts are one of the most common types of Logos used in any rhetorical setting. Charts are particularly effective in giving text Logos because they are based on objective numbers.
  • Data: Data is also a common Logos strategy used to appeal to a reader’s logical side. Raw or filtered data can demonstrate a connection or cause that the writer is trying to assert.
  • Facts: Facts are the basis of all Logos. But facts do not just have to be numerical results or figures. Facts can come from authentic life experiences, the true testimonies of others, or generally accepted “consensus reality.”  
  • Graphs: Much like charts, graphs are hard to argue with and demonstrate correlation or cause effectively.
  • Statistics: Statistics are the basis for the two pictographic demonstrations of Logos mentioned in this list. Statistics are objective evidence wherein the truth is intrinsic to them.

How Do You Identify Logos?

Logos is perhaps the easiest of the appeal strategies to identify because it makes the most obvious appeal.

You can spot Logos by looking for statements that use empirically observable phenomena or other self-evidently “true” facts as evidence.

How Do You Use Logos in a Sentence?

To use Logos, simply present your chosen fact in language that is your own and connects logically to the other ideas surrounding the sentence.

There should be a fitting transition to the sentence that includes your Logos, and a follow-up that explains the fact’s relation to your point or text.

What Is the Most Popular Example of Logos?

In the American context, one of the most popular examples of Logos ever used is Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

While this speech is also an exemplary demonstration of Pathos and particularly Ethos, Lincoln lays the groundwork for the speech’s resonance using Logos in the very first sentence: “Four score and seven years ago…”

Other Famous Examples of Logos

While Lincoln’s use of Logos is certainly one of the most rhetorically famous, he is not alone in his use of Logos.

To Kill a Mockingbird

By reasoning that Tom Robinson cannot use his left hand and that Bob Ewell is left-handed, Atticus Finch demonstrates that it is only possible for Bob Ewell to have beaten his daughter Myella, as the bruises are on the right side of her face.

Susan B. Anthony’s Voting Rights Speech

Susan B. Anthony, a famous suffragette of the 19th century, did not wait to employ Logos in one of her most famous speeches when she talks about the founding of the country.

Obama’s 2015 Speech

Obama made a particularly powerful appeal to those who were still skeptical of his presidency through Logos.

By using objective numbers and figures, he paints a picture of America on the rise, a picture that is hard to argue with.

Other Modern Examples of Logos

While speech and essays are where Logos appears most, they are not the only home of this appeal strategy.

Examples of Logos for Kids

Though Logos is a more abstract concept that children likely will not understand until later in life, there are still easy examples to understand.

  • Aristotle: While he is certainly not a children’s author, Aristotle created the simplest example of Logos for any reader, and one particularly merciful for children: “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.”
  • Harry Potter: When Hagrid first encounters Harry, Harry believes he cannot be a wizard. He does not believe until Hagrid appeals to his sense of reason by asking about his objective experiences.
  • Flex Tape: Since the dawn of the product “Flex Tape” salesman Phil Swift and the commercial for it have become a “meme” popular among young children. By demonstrating the Flex Tape’s abilities to the audience, Phil Swift provides clear evidence of his claims that it is a quality product.

Examples of Logos in Writing

Writing is where Logos appears most often other than speech, and for good reason.

It is a literary device after all.

  • 1984: George Orwell demonstrates how manipulative Logos can be. In this famous novel of untruths, the facts are untrue but still appeal to the character’s logical senses.
  • The Merchant of Venice:  In Shakespeare’s inimitable style, Portia makes an appeal to Logos by reminding everyone that nowhere in the “pound of flesh” deal did it say that the participants were allowed to shed blood.
  • Antigone: Those who read this in high school may remember Antigone’s use of Logos in appealing to factual laws: “Isn’t a man’s right to burial decreed by divine justice?”

Examples of Logos in Business

Logos is at the core of advertising and can prove very powerful in attracting customers.

  • Verizon: In one of Verizon’s most famous advertisements, not a single person or face features in the commercial. Instead, the commercial features a speedy rundown of objective facts and visual maps to get you on Verizon’s side.
  • Apple: If you seek a good example of simple Logos in business, look no further than Apple’s sleek, exemplary advertisements. By demonstrating each phone’s new factual features and appearance, Apple appeals to Logos constantly.
  • Truth initiative: Going against a business lobby is still business, and the Truth initiative against tobacco makes some of the best logical appeals possible in their ads through statistics and several content clips.

Notable Writers Who Used Logos

While Logos appears less in literature than in philosophy or essays, there are still numerous writers who used it throughout history and provide great examples.

1. Aristotle

You cannot write an article on how to use a rhetorical device without including the man who came up with it himself.

Aristotle explains the use of Logos in the Art of Rhetoric and went on to use the concept himself to appeal to his readers in several works such as Poetics and The Nichomachean Ethics.

2. Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is known as a master of description and character creation, and that is precisely what makes him an example of Logos.

In tales such as David Copperfield, he uses literary realism to build a realistic London that every English reader would have recognized and connected with.

By creating this basis that imitates and manipulates fact, Dickens appeals to the reader’s Logos to captivate them and keep reading.

3. Shakespeare

 Logos makes several appearances in the dialogue of his work, such as Merchant of Venice and Hamlet.

Shakespeare loves catching his main characters between appeals to Logos and Pathos, creating plenty of rich conflicts throughout his work.

What Is the Opposite of Logos?

Logos, as we have stated ad nauseam, is the appeal to reason and logic.

Naturally, it stands the opposite of Logos would appeal to emotion.

Thus, the rhetorical strategy of Pathos, an appeal to emotion, is the opposite of Logos.

Logos vs Pathos

While Logos tries to bring your attention to indisputable hard facts, Pathos tries to bring your attention to your heart.

If you’ve seen the ASPCA “Arms of the Angels” advertisement, that’s an example of Pathos.

The majority of the appeal has little to do with statistics or logic but tries to evoke an emotional response.

Other Related Literary Devices To Know

If there were a mere two literary devices, Logos and Pathos, we would be out of tips on how to write a blog post and find things to write about.

Luckily, there are many more literary devices you can use.

  • Hyperbole: Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration, usually to make you laugh.
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetitive use of the same sound at the beginning of the words in your sentence. This appears more often in poetry, but when used in rhetoric can be very powerful.
  • Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia is a literary device you’ll often see in comic books. It is the written imitation of sounds that actions make, such as “pow” or “wham.”
  • Paradox: A favorite of the Existentialist philosophers, a paradox is a statement that appears contradictory but proves true upon further reflection.
  • Irony: Irony is simply the disparity between expectations and the reality of our world or a given story.

Logos Writing Tools To Help You Out

While Logos is one of the simpler literary devices, it can still save you time and money using these writing tools to help you figure out the use of Logos.

1. Writing Helpers

These helpers for writing are online resources you can use to inspire prompts and experiment with different styles and literary devices.

They can help you start a story or polish one you’ve already written.

2. AI Writing Software

AI writing software such as Grammarly and Languagetool have become immensely popular in helping writers see their mistakes and how to fix them.

They may not have much to do with literary devices, but they can help clean up your writing.

3. Grammar Checkers

Maybe you are confident in your style and need no help with that.

If you are unsure about grammar, feel free to look over these grammar-checking tools.

4. Content Creators

Can’t quite figure out how to write original content for your blog or book?

Content creator resources can help you find someone to help quickly.

Ghostwriters are professional writers who will write you just about anything you want that you then get credit for!

Frequently Asked Questions

Logos is the simplest device in a complicated set of writing tools.

Here are some frequently asked questions about Logos to give you all the facts.

What does Logos mean in business?

In business, Logos will typically translate to numbers, charts, figures, or indisputable facts.

Usually, advertisements and company addresses demonstrate Logos by using concrete numbers to demonstrate the benefits of the company’s product.

What does Logos mean in writing?

In writing, Logos can translate to many things.

It depends on the type of writing. In academic writing, particularly in STEM fields, Logos appears as charts, graphs, and data.

But in the Humanities, Logos typically appears as appeals to universal experience, consensus reality, or the law.

Wrapping Up

Logos may seem intimidating at first, but once you look at examples of it, you see that it poses no threat.

It is the easiest rhetorical appeal to use, as it simply requires the presentation of facts.

Try and overlap other rhetorical devices with Logos to create more complicated appeals.

If you can layer all your rhetorical appeals with facts, it becomes very hard to unseat the truth of your tale.

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