Cultural Ethos In Plato's Phaedrus

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Persuasion from ethos establishes the speaker 's or writer 's good character. As you saw in the opening of Plato 's Phaedrus, the Greeks established a sense of ethos by a family 's reputation in the community. Our current culture in many ways denies us the use of family ethos as sons and daughters must move out of the community to find jobs or parents feel they must sell the family home to join a retirement community apart from the community of their lives ' works. The appeal from a person 's acknowledged life contributions within a community has moved from the stability of the family hearth to the mobility of the shiny car. Without the ethos of the good name and handshake, current forms of cultural ethos often fall to puffed-up resumes and other papers. The use of ethos in the form of earned titles within the community-Coach Albert, Deacon Jones, Professor Miller-are diminishing as "truthful" signifiers while commercial-name signifiers or icons a ppear on clothing-Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Tommy Hilfiger- disclosing a person 's cultural ethos not in terms of a contributor to the community, but in terms of identity-through purchase. Aristotle warns us away from such decoys, telling us that the appeal from ethos comes not from appearances, but from a person 's use of language. In a culture where outward appearances have virtually subsumed or taken over the appeal from inner (moral and intellectual) character, the appeal from ethos becomes both problematic and important.

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