Thank You for Arguing

Thank You for Arguing Themes

Themes and Colors
Ethos Theme Icon
Pathos Theme Icon
Logos Theme Icon
Demonstrative vs. Deliberative Rhetoric Theme Icon
Rhetoric and Ethics Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Thank You for Arguing, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

In Thank You for Arguing, Jay Heinrichs studies rhetoric, the art of arguing. Over the course of the book, he categorizes this art in many different ways; however, the most important distinction he draws is the distinction between three different methods of convincing an audience of a point. The first such method is ethos, the ancient Greek word for an argument from character. Whether they’re aware of it or not, audiences are more…

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The second important form of persuasion that Heinrichs discusses in Thank You for Arguing is pathos, the ancient Greek word for an argument based on emotion. Emotion is perhaps the most powerful, and most disrespected, form of persuasion: most of the time, to characterize an argument as a purely emotional appeal is to criticize that argument. But human beings are emotional creatures, so no book on rhetoric would be complete without a thorough analysis…

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The third main form of persuasion that Heinrichs discusses in Thank You for Arguing is logos, from the Greek word meaning “word.” In modern times, logos refers to an argument that appeals to an audience’s sense and reason.

Most of the book’s discussion of logos consists of defining what does and doesn’t constitute a “rational” argument. First, the book sketches out the two main forms of logic. Deductive logic is concerned with studying the…

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In addition to making a three-pronged distinction between the methods of arguing, Thank You for Arguing draws another important distinction between the different “tenses” in which an argument takes place. Aristotle hypothesized that all arguments fall into one of three categories: forensic rhetoric, which is concerned with blame, and which usually takes a past-tense view of the world; demonstrative rhetoric, which is concerned with values, and which usually takes a present-tense view; and deliberative rhetoric…

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Throughout Thank You for Arguing, Heinrichs raises the ethical question of how rhetoric can, and should, be used. Rhetoric can be a tool of manipulation and hypocrisy, with which a skillful speaker can con an audience into believing utter lies. On the other hand, it’s clear that rhetoric can introduce a level of clarity, rationality, and productivity that’s all-too rare in modern society, particularly American society. Put more dramatically, Thank You for Arguing asks…

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