Ethos is a term used in different contexts and disciplines, from rhetoric and philosophy to professional social sciences and anthropology. In general, it refers to the image or reputation that a person or an organization projects to others, based on their actions, their behavior and their values.
In this article of What is it, you will know everything about ethos, such as its origin, concept and definition. In addition to how this term was modifying its meaning over the years according to the historical context.
Concept and definition of ethos
The term ‘ethos’ originates from the Greek language and has been used since ancient times to refer to the way of life and customs of a people or a community. In Greek philosophy, ethos referred to the norms or values that guided human conduct and that were considered fundamental for life in society.
It comes from the Greek root meaning ‘custom’, ‘character’ or ‘behavior’ . In Greek philosophy, ethos was associated with virtue and morality, and was considered essential for the development of a just and harmonious society.
In Greek philosophy, ethos was seen as something that was acquired through education and the constant practice of virtue. Plato, for example, maintained that ethos is the end of education and moral formation. That it should be cultivated from childhood to achieve a just and virtuous society. The opposite of this concept would be ‘Enga’ which means deceit, being a kind of antonym of Ethos.
In modern philosophy, the term ‘ethos’ was used to refer to the cultural identity and way of life of a community or a society. In this sense, ethos refers to the norms, values, and beliefs that define the identity of a social group and that guide its behavior.
It is currently used in various fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology and philosophy. Also in the political and bureaucratic sphere, the Ethos would be efficiency, transparency, impartiality, responsibility and objectivity. In addition to following the customs of a community or a society, to analyze how they influence the personality of the individual and the social organization.
What is ethos in philosophy?
The philosophical ethos is a broad and complex concept that refers to the way in which people relate to the world and to others. In general terms, it is about ethics and morality that govern human conduct and that are based on philosophical principles and values. In this sense, the philosophical ethos implies a critical and profound reflection on human nature and life in society. It seeks to establish the bases for a fair, free and harmonious coexistence among human beings.
Now, it can be understood as a way of life or an attitude towards the world that is based on reflection and criticism. In this sense, philosophy becomes a fundamental tool to understand reality and to guide human action. The philosophical ethos implies a constant search for the truth of knowledge, an attitude of openness and tolerance towards different ways of thinking or living.
The philosophical ethos is based on three fundamental principles: reason, freedom and responsibility. In the first place, reason is the foundation of philosophy and is the means by which one seeks to understand reality and guide human action. Second, freedom is an important value that allows human beings to act autonomously and make decisions in a conscious and responsible manner. And thirdly, responsibility implies assuming the consequences of our actions, acting ethically and morally correct.
This term can also be applied to different areas of human life, such as politics, education, the economy, culture and religion. In all these areas, philosophy can help establish ethical and moral principles that allow a fair and free coexistence among human beings.
For example, in the political or government sphere , philosophy can help establish principles of justice and equity. That allow a fair distribution of resources and a peaceful coexistence between the different social groups. In the educational field, philosophy can help to form critical and reflective citizens who are committed to building a more just and free society.
What is the relationship between logos, pathos and ethos?
The relationship between ethos, pathos and logos is found in the Aristotelian rhetorical triad, which is a model used to analyze or evaluate discourses and arguments . Each of these terms refers to a different form of persuasion used in communication that can be used effectively to convince an audience.
Ethos refers to the credibility and authority of the speaker or writer. That is, it is the image that the issuer projects to the public and that is based on his character, his experience and his knowledge. The ethos is built through the language and the way the argument is presented. It is essential to establish the trust and credibility of the issuer before the audience.
Pathos refers to the emotions and feelings that are aroused in the audience. This form of persuasion is based on the ability of the speaker or writer to connect emotionally with the public and generate an emotional response in them. Pathos can be used to move, motivate or inspire the audience and make them identify with the message.
The logos refers to reason and logical argumentation. That is, it is about the ability of the speaker or writer to present a coherent argument based on facts or data. The logos is used to convince the audience through reason and logic, and is essential to establish the validity and soundness of the argument.
Who used for the first time?
The term ethos is an ancient philosophical concept that dates back to classical Greece and has been used by many philosophers throughout history. Therefore, it is difficult to determine who used it for the first time.
Ethos is found in several works by Aristotle, who was one of the greatest philosophers of ancient Greece. In his work ‘Nicomachean Ethics’ , Aristotle uses the term ‘ethos’ to refer to the way of life and customs of a community or a society, and associates it with virtue and morality.
In addition, in his work ‘Rhetoric’, Aristotle uses the term ‘ethos’ to refer to the credibility and authority of the speaker, and considers it essential to persuade the audience. Aristotle argues that ethos is built through the way the speaker presents his argument and his ability to establish a trusting and emotional connection with the audience.
We can add that Catholics in history applied the ethos, influenced by the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Church, which includes moral and ethical principles such as love for God and neighbor , justice, charity, solidarity, defense of life and human dignity.
Examples of the use
An example of the use of ethos could be the speech of the president of the United States, Barack Obama, at the funeral of the victims of the shooting in the church of Charleston in 2015.
In this speech, Obama used ethos to establish his credibility as the nation’s leader and as someone who shares the pain or suffering of families affected by the shooting. Obama began his speech by mentioning his own connection to the Charleston church, as well as its importance to him as a person and as president. In this way, he established an emotional connection with the audience that demonstrated an understanding of the pain and sadness they are feeling.
Thus, Obama used ethos to establish his moral authority. In addition to his commitment to the fight against racism and discrimination of the individual . In his speech, he condemned racism, violence. He called for unity and compassion between different races and religions. In doing this, Obama used his position as the nation’s leader and his commitment to democratic values and social justice to establish his credibility and authority with the audience.