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The Elements of Ethos - Intelligence

Posted on 2017-03-07 Tuesday 02:02 PM


An audience will judge you on three habits that you show:

1.            intelligence ="mental habits"

2.            virtue = "moral habits"

3.            good will = "emotional habits

However, the understanding of what these habits actually are can differ depending on the audience. How much you can ‘pretend’ to have these habits is difficult to say. Below are the different types of intelligence or “mental habits”.


Linguistic intelligence – ability with language, words, writing, grammar and vocabulary

Logical-Mathematical intelligence – ability with numbers, logic, reasoning, and abstractions

Musical intelligence – ability with sounds, tones, rhythms, pitch, musical keys, and structure of the songs

Spatial intelligence – ability with sense of direction, hand-eye coordination, and visual memory

Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence – ability with the body and movement, flexibility, agility, speed, and coordination

Interpersonal intelligence – ability with communication, organizing people, recognizing people’s moods and motivation

Intrapersonal intelligence – ability to be self-aware, exploring emotions, goals, and motivation

Naturalistic intelligence – sensitivity to and understanding of the natural world

Existential intelligence – the ability to explore questions of life, death, and what is beyond death

Your audience will probably trust a certain type of intelligence depending on the subject and context of your piece of writing. Make sure you display the most suitable kind of intelligence to establish ethos with your audience.

Arguments About The Future

Posted On 2017-02-28 Tuesday 10:14 AM


You probably won’t find proof that something will definitely happen. There is nearly always an element of uncertainty with Future Fact, which makes it a misnomer.

If there is power and desire for something to happen, that something will happen

Understanding that someone not only has the power, but also the desire, to do something, can be a profound advantage; you can predict their behaviour. If you do not adjust your approach to suit that predictable behaviour, the consequences can be profound.

On September 30th 1938, Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain returned from a meeting with Hitler. Chamberlain claimed that he had ‘secured peace in our time’ by negotiating with the Nazis. Chamberlain and his government knew that the Nazis had developed enough military power to invade countries in Europe. The government also knew that Hitler desired to invade countries. However, they convinced themselves that Hitler would not start another war so soon after the devastation of World War 1. They settled for short-term peace, allowing Hitler more time to prepare for war. If the government had applied the rule of power + desire = will probably happen, the history of Europe could have been very different.

If the antecedents are present, the natural consequences will happen.

This line of argument is again based on using our past experience to predict the future. If there are no clouds in the sky, it probably won’t rain soon. Some antecedents/natural consequences are so predictable that they feel like certainties rather than probabilities. However, to effectively argue, you must remember that antecedents and natural consequences are persuasive, not certainties. The probability of an antecedent leading to a natural consequence varies from feeling like completely certain to feeling like completely uncertain.


Nearly Certain

Antecedent – Cars driving too fast on icy roads

Natural Consequence – Accident


Antecedent – study hard for a test

Natural Consequence – do well in the test


Antecedent – eating 7000 calories per day

Natural Consequence – gain weight


These arguments can be manipulated for persuasive effect. The cars in the first example could have specialized ice tyres.

Studying hard might not lead to good results for a variety of reasons.

Olympic athletes regularly consume 10,000+ calories per day without gaining weight.

How to Use It

Dr. King uses both Past Fact and Future Fact in his Letter from Birmingham Jail

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries, our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation – and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

Dr. Martin Luther King (1963) Letter from Birmingham Jail

If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail.

In this line, Dr. King mixes past and future fact to say that if the past fact (overcoming slavery) occurred, which was much more difficult, terrible, and unlikley than their aim (civil rights), their aim is likely to happen.

We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.

In the last line, Dr. King used the Future Fact technique of arguing that power and desire will lead to something happen. The desire is shown by the ‘demands’ and the ‘power’ is shown by ‘God’.


An Introduction to Merism

Posted On 2017-02-22 Wednesday 08:52 PM


I (name), take thee (name), to be my wedded Wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Traditional Christian Wedding Vows

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls

Speech Introduction

The defendant is prohibited from communicating with the plaintiff, either personally or through other persons, by telephone, writing, or any other means.

Text of a Restraining Order in UK law

Merism has two uses.

1) it is a description of the contrasting or opposing parts of something to describe the whole

2) it is a description of the parts of something, but not necessarily every part.

In the example of the wedding vows, a bride or groom could just say ‘all of the time’ instead of ‘for better, for worse, for richer for poorer’ etc. Whenever we use words, neurons connected to the meaning of that word begin to fire. But the meaning of a word is made of everything we know about it: the synonyms, antonyms, our memories of that word etc. and this in turn triggers emotions and other thoughts associated with that word’s meaning If the wedding vows were ‘all of the time’, the meaning of those words would not trigger much of an emotional response. Whereas, if ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer’ etc. are used, each word triggers a response in the reader or listener. This is what some people call depth or texture in writing. It is the provoking of intense or abundant thoughts and emotions. ‘all of the time’ is shallow. ‘for better for worse, for richer for poorer etc’ is much more intense or colourful or deep (however you want to describe it).

However, merism isn’t only used for developing depth of writing. Because it explains something fully it is also used in law. The legal form of merism is slightly different because it lists the parts of something, not necessarily in contrast or opposition. This can be seen in the example from UK law above.


A Brief Introduction to Cause and Effect

Posted On 2017-02-20 Monday 05:08 PM


A Brief Introduction to Cause and Effect

Deeply embedded in the human psyche is the idea that everything has a cause. One of the main arguments for the existence of god(s) is that the universe must begin with an uncaused cause; everything is caused except the one supreme thing, god(s).

When thinking of a hypothetical cause, the basic principles of cause and effect need to be checked

Multiple Causes

An effect can have more than one cause. The goal of rational thinkers is to find the actual cause or causes of an observed effect, not just the range of possible causes. Your hypothetical cause might be a possible cause, but it might not be the cause.

Adequate Cause

The cause must be able to realistically produce the effect (it is possible for an elephant to sit on someone and kill them, but in Antarctica this is an unrealistic possible cause).

Multiple Adequate Causes

Once you know something or somethings can realistically cause an effect, you need to analyse other possible realistic causes and argue for or against them. Your hypothetical cause might not be the only possible cause.

Conditions Required for Cause

You may have identified a potential cause, but you would need to check that the required conditions for the cause. Opportunity and motivation are important required conditions for human actions, whereas time, temperature etc. are important required conditions for physical processes.


You need to establish whether the cause you identified will always produce the same effect or whether it only sometimes produces the effect. If your hypothetical cause only sometimes produces the effect, how can you be sure it produced the effect you have observed?

post hoc ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this)

One of the most common mistakes with cause-effect relationships is believing that because something happened before something else, it was the cause of the thing that happened. This is the cause of most superstitions.

A football player puts his right sock on first and scores 3 goals that day. From then on, he always puts his right sock on first, thinking that it is lucky.

There are also more important consequences of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

A child does not do well at school. He grows up and does not have a job. Some would argue that his poor school grades caused his lack of material success in his working life. There is no evidence for this. Just because the school grades came before the unemployment, does not mean the grades are a cause of the effect observed. In this case, the man did not do well at school but was involved in a near-death experience through a car crash when he was 18. The experience motivated him to become a monk and rejected materialism. His grades did not cause the effect observed but a government research team includes the man in statistics on how important school grades are. 



Define to Invent A Powerful Argument

Posted On 2017-02-17 Friday 08:12 PM


Sometimes it may seem as though an argument cannot be refuted. However, redefining a word or concept can create opportunities to develop an argument.

Looking at Matthew Arnold’s response to Huxley again, he argues against Huxley’s claim that an education in science is more valuable than an education in humanities by listing the ‘powers’ that create worthwhile human life. He then argued that only an education in the humanities helps people to develop all of these ‘powers’, whereas a scientific education does not.

He wrote

Deny the facts altogether, I think, he hardly can. He can hardly deny that when we set ourselves to enumerate the powers which go to the building up of human life, and say that they are the power of conduct, the power of intellect and knowledge, the power of beauty, and the power of social life and manners – he can hardly deny that this scheme, though drawn in rough and plain lines enough, and pretending to scientific exactness, does yet give a fairly true representation of the matter. Human nature is built up by these powers; we have need for them all. When we have rightly met and adjusted the claims of them all, we shall then be in a fair way of getting soberness and righteousness with wisdom. This is evident enough, and the friends of physical science would admit it.

Matthew Arnold (1882) Literature and Science

Huxley’s argued that a purely scientific education is more valuable than an education in the humanities.

Arnold defines ‘value’ as the ability to improve human life (the powers).

Arguing that social life and manners are not an important part of human life would be impossible for Huxley, but he would also know that a purely scientific education does not improve social life and manners. By defining ‘value’, Arnold has created a powerful argument for education in the humanities.


Alliteration as A Subconscious Highlighter

Posted On 2017-02-16 Thursday 05:57 PM


               “To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves for whatever period is required…”

                 John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address


In this example, ‘to break the bonds of mass misery’ is highlighted by the use of alliteration. Kennedy gave this speech in 1961, during The Cold War and the Civil Rights Movement. US nationalism and a passion for fighting the ‘evil’ of Communism was rife but the racist laws of segregation still existed within the US. Kennedy uses alliteration here to focus his listeners, some who would have supported segregation and others who would have fought against it, on a common goal. ‘Break the bonds of mass misery’ could describe the experience of African American slavery and segregation and the fight to free people from Communism around the world. Both those supporting segregation and wanting to fight Communism and those fighting segregation could relate to these 6 words. Both sides would have nodded in agreement at the same time. By using alliteration, Kennedy’s speech writers highlighted the key message of his speech: unite and use your desire to fight for freedom at home as well as abroad.

“To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves for whatever period is required…” -John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address

When Barack Obama came to power as the first black President of the US, he had promised change. His slogan ‘yes we can’ answered the implied question, “can we change the US?” But when he came to power, he needed to unite the people of the US. Some accused him of not understanding the narrative of American exceptionalism that many self-labelled patriots trusted and revered. American exceptionalism is the idea that there is something special about the US that makes it better than other countries. This is deeply embedded in the history and culture of an America that stands for freedom and democracy. Many conservatives in the US believed Obama’s promises of change would undermine American exceptionalism. They believed there was a right way and a wrong way to run a country and the US was doing just fine. Obama needed to appeal to these people, so despite his promises of change, in his inaugural speech his writers used alliteration on ‘constants in our character’. His writers wanted to draw subconscious focus to the continuation of the American character. In effect, Obama here is promising that some things won’t change.

“Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.”

Barack Obama, Inaugural Address



Posted On 2017-02-15 Wednesday 12:50 PM


Articles (the / a / an) confuse and frustrate learners of English writing, but the lack of consistency you show with these small words reveals your lack of native-like ability. You can become consistent. It just takes practice. Our

Basic Articles

1. Generic Nouns

A generic noun is used to make a generalisation.

It refers to a whole class of something.

A generic noun does not refer to something specific, real, or concrete.


1.1 Generic Singular Count Nouns

Rule 1 – use ‘a/an’ or ‘one’ before the noun

Rule 2 – using ‘the’ for most species of animals, inventions, and instruments is also possible and feels more formal

Examples of Rule 1:

By desiring little, a poor man makes himself rich.

- Democritus (460BCE – 370BCE)

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.

- Seneca (4 BCE -65CE)

Example of Rule 2:

The song of the Blackbird does not meet the approbation of bird-fanciers: 'It is not destitute of melody,' says Bechstein, 'but it is broken by noisy tones, and is agreeable only in the open country’.

- C. A. Johns (1909) British Birds in Their Haunts


1.2 Generic Plural Count Nouns

Rule 1 – do not use an article with generic plural count nouns  

Men and women, gifted with feeling, intelligence, and character, look upward from its surface and watch the shining members of the heavenly host. Are none of these the home of beings gifted with like powers, who watch in their turn the movements of that shining point which is our world?”

- E. Walter Maunder (1913) Are The Planets Inhabited?

From my own observations on plants, guided to a certain extent by the experience of the breeders of animals, I became convinced many years ago that it is a general law of nature that flowers are adapted to be crossed, at least occasionally, by pollen from a distinct plant.

- Charles Darwin (1876) The Effects of Cross & Self-Fertilisation in the Vegetable Kingdom


1.3 Generic Non-Count Nouns

Rule 1 – do not use articles with generic non-count nouns

Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.

- William Shakespeare (1597) Romeo and Juliet

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.

- Henry David Theroux (1817-1862)

2. Indefinite Nouns

Indefinite nouns refer to things in the real world, not symbols.

Indefinite nouns are real things but are not specifically pointed out or identified by the writer.


2.1 Indefinite Singular Count Nouns

Rule 1 –  use ‘a/an’ or ‘one’ before the noun

the reader does not know or does not need to know the specific thing being referred to 

the reader only needs to know that one member of the class of thing described is being referred to


We were dodging various craft down the harbour when a squadron of trawlers came out on our beam, at that extravagant rate of speed which unlimited Government coal always leads to. They were led by an ugly, upstanding, black-sided buccaneer with twelve-pounders.

- Rudyard Kipling (1915) The Fringes of the Fleet

Now, when Mrs Morel heard the rattle of an empty coal-cart cease at her entry-end, she ran into the parlour to look, expecting almost to see her husband seated in the waggon, his face grey under his dirt, his body limp and sick with some hurt or other. If it were he, she would run out to help.

- D. H. Lawrence (1913) Sons and Lovers

I, too, saw God through mud,—

The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.

War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,

And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there—

Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.

- Wilfred Owen (1917) Apologia Pro Poemate Meo


2.2 Indefinite Plural Count Nouns

Rule 1 – a word describing an amount is used before the noun

Type of words that can be used before an indefinite plural count noun – ‘some’, ‘two’, ‘a few’, a lot of’, ‘several’ etc.


She was sitting down in a basket chair, in her cream cashmere and satin ribbons, and Sid, standing with one hand on her shoulder, looking at her bouquet. And behind them there were some fern trees, and a waterfall, and Mount Cook in the distance, covered with snow.

- Katherine Mansfield (1924) Something Childish and Other Stories 

He made engagements with her several times for lunch and tea — the former were hurried and, to him at least, rather unsatisfactory occasions, for she was sleepy-eyed and casual, incapable of concentrating upon anything or of giving consecutive attention to his remarks.

- F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922) The Beautiful and Damned


2.3 Indefinite Non-Count Nouns

Rule 1 – the noun does not need an article or preceding word

Rule 2 - a word describing an amount can be used before the noun

Type of words that can be used before an indefinite plural non-count noun – ‘some’, ’a lot of’, ’a little’ etc.



I shall try to do what I see lady journalists do: interviewing and writing descriptions and trying to remember conversations. I am told that, with a little practice, one can remember all that goes on or that one hears said during a day. However, we shall see.

- Bram Stoker (1897) Dracula

I could only conjecture, while he was dragging me in by both hands, that (knowing my habits) he had come to the cottage to make sure of meeting me that night, and that he had some news to tell of an unusually agreeable kind.

- Wilkie Collins (1859) The Woman in White


3. Definite Nouns

Rule 1 – a noun is definite when writer and reader both know or are thinking about the specific thing that is being referred to (regardless of whether the reader has experienced the noun in the real world, after mentioning the noun once in writing, the writer then refers to the noun as a definite noun)

Rule 2 – ‘the’ is used with singular and plural count nouns and non-count nouns



Definite Singular Nouns

The trial of a pirate was usually a rough and ready business, and the culprit seldom received the benefit of any doubt that might exist. If he made any defence at all, it was usually to plead that he had been forced to join the pirates against his wish, and that he had long been waiting for an opportunity to escape.

- Burt Franklin (1924) The Pirates’ Who’s who


Definite Plural Count Nouns


All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.

- William Shakespeare (1599) As You Like It


The queen started laying again in the very first days of February, and the workers have flocked to the willows and nut-trees, gorse and violets, anemones and lungworts. Then spring invades the earth, and cellar and stream with honey and pollen, while each day beholds the birth of thousands of bees.

- Maurice Maeterlinck (1914) The Life of the Bee


Definite Non-Count Nouns


That same afternoon, the massive gray square tower of an old Cathedral rises before the sight of a jaded traveller.

- Charles Dickens (1870) The Mystery of Edwin Drood


Those who have regarded the Supreme Court of Civilization—meaning thereby the moral sentiment of the world—as a mere rhetorical phrase or an idle illusion should take note how swiftly that court—sitting now as one of criminal assize—has pronounced sentence upon the murderers of Edith Cavell. The swift vengeance of the world's opinion has called to the bar General Baron von Bissing, and in executing him with the lightning of universal execration has forever degraded him.

- James M. Beck (1861-1936) The Case of Edith Cavell 


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