The understanding of the human being and its relevance for persuasion

Rhetoric, Visual Rhetoric and Visual Argumentation

Rafael Jiménez Cataño

University of the Holy Cross, Rome


Abstract: The different ways of defining the human being or of perceiving human essence involve shifts of the persuasive power among the three persuasive appeals. Aristotle defined man as an “animal that has logos,” but for him logos is only one of the three appeals. Nowadays, there is a very widespread sensibility in favour of the strong weight of pathos, which is sometimes sentimentalism, but often, it is simply a response to a paradigm of humanity that takes emotion more into account, without replacing reason with emotion. This sensibility is noticeable in the current propensity to see “human” traits in non-human animals, not primarily in their intelligence, but in attitudes that resemble acts of care. This means that we recognize humanity in care. Philosophy of care places vulnerability at the same level as rationality in the definition of the human being and in the relationships that are created between people. This highlights how truly social – communitarian – the “knowledge society” could become.

Key words: human identity, care, argumentation, knowledge society, pathos, empathy.

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