Wikramanayake’s Note on the Pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, A Brief Summary

Wikramanayake responds to Grimaldi’s 1957 article by saying that Grimaldi only discusses how pistis is used in 1354-1356 in the Rhetoric, arguing that Grimaldi is wrong on the grounds that the entire treatise needs to be discussed, not just the first bit. So, for Wikramanayake, while pistisis used in 3 senses throughout Aristotle’s Rhetoric, one of these senses, the “pledge of good faith” at 1375a10 is not relevant to Aristotle’s rhetorical theory. 

There are only two other meanings—not Grimaldi’s three—and they overlap with one another: 1) the state of mind that is produced in the audience and 2) the means whereby that state of mind is produced. Wikramanayake’s first meaning—the state of mind produced in the audience—corresponds with Grimaldi’s third meaning, whereas Wikramanayake believes his second meaning is similar to Grimaldi’s second meaning. Wikramanayake contends that Grimaldi’s first meaning, pisteis as subject matter or source material, does not exist in Aristotle because whenever Aristotle talks about source material or subject matter he uses either circumlocution, or toposor eidos

So, Wikramanayake’s second meaning is limited to pisteis atechnoias well as pisteis entechnoi, the latter of which for Wikramanayake includes ethical, emotional, and logical demonstration. Furthermore, the logical part of pisteis entechnoi contains demonstration by enthymeme and paradigm. Wikramanayake then contends that Grimaldi excludes enthymemes and paradigms from logical proofs, but demonstration is one of the proofs. In fact, enthymeme is, as Aristotle says, the body of proof, not just an appendage, so Grimaldi must be wrong.

Wikramanayake, G. H. 1961. “A Note on the Pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric.” The American Journal of Philology 82(2): 1961, pp. 193-196.

Grimaldi’s Note on the Pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, A Brief Summary


Traditionally, the pisteis entechnoi have been defined as ethos, pathos, and logos, where ethos and pathos have been equated with non- or quasi-logical, and where logos has been equated with the logical and the enthymeme. But the way Aristotle uses the word pistis has no univocal meaning and is difficult to define, and what he actually means is much more nuanced. Furthermore, the misunderstanding of the different meanings of pistis have created much confusion and many seeming inconsistencies. In this article, Grimaldi analyzes sections 1354-1356 from Aristotle’s Rhetoric to give three different meanings of the word pistis
  1. first, pistis is source material that can induce belief in an audience. This is where we find the atechnoi and entechnoi pisteis, which Grimaldi calls ethos, pathos, and pragma
  2. Second, pistis is the method whereby the source material is used to produce pistis in the audience. This pistis, like episteme, is the result of demonstration. It is under this definition of pistis where enthymemes and paradigms are employed. 
  3. Finally, pistis is the state of mindbelief—that has been produced or induced in the audience.

So, depending on how we define pistis, we will be talking about something slightly different. If pisteis are source materials for proofs, then those proofs lie in ethos, pathos, and pragma. But if pisteis are modes of demonstration, then they are enthymemes and paradigms. Hence, Grimaldi argues that the enthymeme must not be equated with the third definition of pistis, but the enthymeme instead employs the pisteis entechnoi, the source material. The enthymeme thus embodies the pisteis, giving them form so they can be used to persuade an audience. [And now I wonder if we can say something like induce belief.]

Grimaldi also recognizes that ethos and pathos are not non- or quasi-logical because as human beings, we make judgments and accept propositions with feelings, emotions, will, character, and intellect. 

From Grimaldi, William M. A. 1957. “A Note on the Pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1354-1356.” The American Journal of Philology 78(2): 1957, pp. 188-192. 


Aristotle, On the Soul Book 3.3

Book 3.3 is about the imagination. Many philosophers believe that thinking is perceiving. [At least, they use metaphors to describe thinking in terms of perceiving.] But this is not entirely the case because that would mean that everything that we see was true, and we are sometimes deceived by our senses. The sun, for example, looks small but is actually many times larger than the earth. But seeing things as they really are is always true, but it is possible to think falsely. Thought belongs to no creature which doesn’t have the power to reason.
Imagination is different from both perception and thought. It always implies perception, and is itself implied by judgment. It’s not in our power to form opinions about whatever we want because our opinions must be either true or false. When we form opinions we are immediately affected by them.
Imagination is a form of judgment, but it is not always right. Is it opinion?
“[O]pinion implies belief (for one cannot hold opinions in which one does not believe)” (428a20). Lower creatures don’t believe, but many have imagination. “Again, every opinion [doxa] is accompanied by belief [pistis], belief by conviction, and conviction by rational discourse [logos]” (428a20). Some creatures have imagination, but no reasoning power, no logos.

“Since sight is the chief sense, the name phantasia (imagination) is derived from phaos (light), because without light it is impossible to see” (429a). 

A Note on the Topics of Aristotle

Wow. Look at this definition! “Now syllogism is a statement [logos] in which, certain things having been posited, something other than the posited necessarily results through what is posited” (100a). We have something—and something else comes in to being from it! Where’s Aristotle’s On Coming to Be and Passing Away when I need it? J

Then:
Apodeixis [logical demonstration] occurs whenever the syllogism is drawn from things that are true and primary or from things that are of the sort as to have taken the first principle of knowledge of them from what is primary and true; but a syllogism is dialectical when drawn from generally accepted opinions” (100a-100b18). Things that are true are persuasive in themselves and by themselves. Opinions, or endoxa, are things that seem right to all people or most people or the wise, meaning most of the wise, or the most well-known as authorities.
Dialectic is useful for 3 purposes: mental training as a method to undertake discussion on any subject, serious conversation that lets us restate what other say to us, and philosophical science, since dialectic enables us to state both sides of an issue and thereby more easily see what is true and what is false.
“We shall possess the method completely when we are in the same situation as in rhetoric and medicine and such faculties: that is, [able] to accomplish what we choose from the available means; for neither will the one with rhetorical skill persuade by every means nor will the doctor heal, but if none of the available means is neglected we shall say that he has knowledge adequately” (101b).


[What exactly is “available means”?]

From Topics Book 1.1-3

Aristotle’s Rhetoric: A Brief Summary

Book I
Rhetoric is the antistrophos (counterpart, counter-turn, or even correlative) of dialectic and can be treated systematically. Argumentative persuasion involves pisteis, which are a kind of apodeixis (demonstration). The rhetorical form of apodeixis is enthymeme. Although rhetoric is often misused, it should be used to promote truth and justice. Rhetoric is the dynamis to see in any given situation the available/possible pithanon (typically, this sentence is translated as saying that rhetoric is the ability/power/faculty to see the available means of persuasion in any given situation). The pisteis entechnoi are ethos, pathos, and logos, which involve the character of the speaker, the emotions of the audience, and the logos of the speech. Hence, rhetoric is an offshoot of dialectic and ethics. Paradeigma in rhetoric corresponds with epagoge in dialectic, and enthymeme corresponds with syllogism.

There are 3 kinds or types of rhetoric: deliberative (or political), forensic (or legal), and epideictic (or ceremonial oratory or display). The political speaker will appeal to the good of the hearers and show that he is interested in their happiness. The epideictic speaker is concerned with virtue. The forensic speaker should study wrong doing, law, and motives. All voluntary actions are good or apparently good, pleasant or apparently pleasant. (In other words, I take this to mean that people don’t do things because they think they’re bad or unpleasant; Aristotle makes a similar statement in the Nicomachean Ethics.)
The pisteis atechnoi are 5 in number and pertain especially to forensic oratory: laws, witnesses, contracts, tortures, oaths.

Book II
A speaker must seem to be a good sort of character in order to persuade an audience. He must also put his hearers into the right frame of mind. Hence, the necessity of discussing human emotion: anger and calmness, friendship and enmity, fear and confidence, shame and shamelessness, kindness and unkindness, pity, indignation, envy, and emulation. Then, Aristotle presents generalized characters of the old and prime, then comments on good birth, wealth, power, and the ability to see backward and look forward.

Two general modes of persuasion (koinai pisteis) are paradeigma (example/paradigm) and enthumema (enthymeme). Maxims are a part of the enthymeme. Paradeigma are either historical or invented, which invented are either parabolai (illustrations) or logoi (fables), like those of Aesop. A maxim is an incomplete enthymeme. Maxims invest a speech with moral character. Enthymemes are either demonstrative or refutative.

There are 28 Topics, or lines of proof or argument, that can be used to make enthymemes. The most effective enthymemes are those which the audience foresees the conclusions from the beginning, as long as it’s not totally obvious. Part of the pleasure we feel is at our own intelligent anticipation.

Book III
It’s not enough to know what to say, but one must be able to say it effectively and in the right way. Style is a small thing with real importance, and has much to do with poetry, though ideally our bare facts should be enough to persuade. Style must be appropriate and clear. It cannot be overblown, but should appear natural.

Correctness in style is discussed under 5 heads: right use of connecting words, use of special, and not vague general, terms, avoidance of ambiguity, observance of gender, correct indication of grammatical number. Impressiveness is given 6 heads: description instead of simple name, metaphors and epithets, plural for singular number, repetition of the article, connecting words, description by means of negation. The appropriate style adapts itself to the emotions of the hearers, the character of the speaker, and the nature of the subject. There is power in setting things before the eyes of the audience through metaphor. Rhythm is also useful and influential.

To arrange a speech, first state the case, then prove it. To these can be added introduction, which should indicate the aim of the speech, and epilogue. An argument attempts a conclusive proof, but it does so differently in forensic, epideictic, and judiciary speeches. The epilogue (peroration, conclusion) has 4 parts: make the audience well-disposed towards yourself and ill disposed towards your opponent, magnify or minimize the leading facts, excite the required kind of emotion in your hearers, and refresh their memories by means of a recapitulation. In closing, Aristotle writes, “make sure that hearers know that you’re letting them decide for themselves: I have spoken, you have listened. You have the facts before you. Now you be the judge.”

“Aristoteles Louvre” by After Lysippos – Eric Gaba (User:Sting), July 2005.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aristoteles_Louvre.jpg#/media/File:Aristoteles_Louvre.jpg

A Hierarchy of Appeals, From Aristotle

This is from Aristotle’s Rhetoric (some translations of the book are called The Art of Rhetoric). You can pick up any copy of the Rhetoric and find this passage at 1356a. It’s a bit lengthy, but well, it’s worth it.
This is where Aristotle introduces ethos, pathos, and logos in Chapter 2 of Book 1:

“Of the means of persuasion provided by way of speech, there are three forms, for some are in the character of the speaker [ethos], some consist in putting the hearer into a certain disposition [emotion, pathos], and some are present in the speech itself by showing or appearing to show something [logos]. Persuasion is by means of character [ethos] whenever the speech is spoken in such a way as to make the speaker trustworthy; for we are more persuaded, and more quickly, by decent people, about all matters without exception, and . . . character, one might say, has in it just about the most decisive means of persuasion. Persuasion is by means of the hearers whenever they are led on into passion [pathos] by the speech, for we do not render our judgments the same way when grieved as when delighted, or when friendly as when hostile . . . And persuasion is by means of speech whenever we show something that is true, or appears so, from things that are persuasive on each subject.”

Now, after typing all that out, I feel a sort of desire to say a bit about it.
One of the things that Aristotle implies here is that there is a sort of hierarchy of the three rhetorical appeals: ethos is at the top, pathos is next, and logos is at the bottom. The reason for this is because when we hear a logical argument, we believe it, but our brains actually reason differently depending on the emotional state that they–we–are in (hence Aristotle’s statement, “we do not render our judgments the same way when grieved as when delighted, or when friendly as when hostile”). New studies in Embodied Cognitive Science will actually confirm this idea that, at least to some degree, we reason from emotional states of mind (see, for example, Mark Johnson’s The Meaning of the Body). Crazy, right? But there is an appeal that’s even higher than pathos, and that’s ethos. Ethos is at the top of the hierarchy because ethos is character–what and who a person is–and the emotions strong as they are, are in the body, both the body of the speaker and the listener, and the body is an essential part of who and what a person is. Additionally, when a speaker makes an emotional appeal on an audience, if the audience trusts that speaker, then the audience will transfer that trust to the emotions that they are now having! “[F]or we are more persuaded, and more quickly, by decent people, about all matters without exception.” Another translation of the same passage reads, “We believe good men more fully and more readily than others.” When it comes to ethos, trust is the key word.

So here’s the question. To what degree is trust an emotion?