Definition of Logos

Logos is a Greek word meaning logic. Logos is a literary device that can be defined as a statement, sentence or argument used to convince or persuade the targeted audience by employing reason or logic. In everyday life, arguments depend upon pathos and ethos besides logos. Logos mostly employs the utilization of inductive and deductive reasoning methods to be effective. There are many examples of logos in literature and in debates.

Classification of Logos

Logos examples may be classified according to the following categories.

  • Inductive reasoning – Inductive reasoning involves a specific representative fact or case which is drawn towards a conclusion or generalization. However, inductive reasoning requires reliable and powerful evidence that is presented to support the point.
  • Deductive reasoning – Deductive reasoning involves generalization at the initial stage and then moves on towards the specific case. The starting generalization must be based on reliable evidence to support it at the end.

In some cases, both of these methods are used to convince the audience.

Examples of Logos in Literature

Example #1

The wage system has made people believe that what a man needs is work.
This, of course, is absurd. What he needs is the goods produced by
work, and the less work involved in making a given amount of goods,
the better…… But owing to our economic system…where a better system would
produce only an increase of wages or a diminution in the hours of work
without any corresponding diminution of wages.

(Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell)

In this paragraph, Russell is presenting arguments for the unjust distribution of wealth and its consequences. He gives the answer through logic and states that a reason for this injustice is due to evils in institutions. His deduction is that capitalism and the wage system should be abolished to improve the economic system.

Example #2

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

(The Art of Rhetoric by Aristotle)

Aristotle is using syllogistic arguments here, where some of the arguments or assertions remain unstated. Since, Socrates is a man therefore, he is mortal; all men are mortal so eventually they will die. This is the logic presented here.

Example #3

“Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man”.

(Of Studies by Francis Bacon)

This example is exact, precise and compact with arguments as well as a deduction or conclusion. At first, Bacon points out what is reading, conference and writing and simultaneously gives the logic and reasoning to read, write or conference (discussion).

Example #4

“Crafty men condemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use; but that is wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation”.

(Of Studies by Francis Bacon)

This is also a perfect example of logos. Here, Bacon discusses the matter of theories versus skills. There comes a clash between reading and not reading. He argues that a reader is better than those who cling to what they already know. He uses logic that reading is necessary because it improves the skills.

Example #5

Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on…..
Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger,
But, oh, what damnèd minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts— suspects, yet soundly loves…
She did deceive her father, marrying you…
She loved them most….
I humbly do beseech you of your pardon
For too much loving you….

(Othello by Shakespeare)

In this extract, Iago convinces Othello with logic and reasoning and makes him doubtful that there is a secret relationship between Desdemona and Cassio.

Function of Logos

Logos is used in citing facts besides statistical, literal and historical analogies. It is something through which inner thoughts are presented in a logical way before the audience for persuasion. In society, rationality and logic are greatly valued and this type of convincing approach is generally honored more than appeals made by a speaker or character to the audience. On the other hand, scientific reasoning and formal logic are perhaps not suitable for general audiences, as they are more appropriate for scientific professionals only.

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