Ethos is  Greek word wich originaly means:”accustomed place”.

Ethos forms the root of ethikos meaning, “moral, showing moral character”.

To the Greeks ancient and modern, the meaning is simply the state of being”, the inner source, the soul, the mind, and the original essence, that shapes and forms a person or an animal. Late Latin borrowed it as ethicus, the feminine of wich (ethica, for  “moral philosophy”) is the origin of the modern English word ethics.


 According to The Oxford English Dictionary, Ethos is defined as “the characteristic spirit, prevalent tone of sentiment, of a people or community; the ‘genius’ of an institution or system”, , the word ethos has been translated to contain many different meanings within the English language. One such definition is that the concept of ethos listens to accepted standards, rather than what is more modernly thought of as character unique to a certain individual. such a description might conjure up images of shared ideas and experiences, thus fortifying it as the foundation of character.              

In Rhetoric, ethos is one of the three artistic modes of persuasion (other principles being logos and pathos) discussed by Aristotle in Rheoric’ as a component of argument. At first speakers must establish ethos. On the one hand, this can mean merely “moral competence”, but Aristotle broadens this word to encompass expertise and knowledge. He expressly remarks that ethos should be achieved only by what the speaker says, not by what people think of his character before he begins to speak. This position is often disputed and other writers on rhetoric state that ethos is connected to the overall moral character and history of the speaker.

It is important to note that ethos does not belong to the speaker, but to the audience. Yet, it is the audience that determines whether a speaker is a high- or a low-ethos speaker.

                                                                                              By Tamar kouyoumjian


~ by wordpros on May 16, 2009.

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