Wilson, Douglas, and Nathan D. Wilson. The Rhetoric Companion: A Student's Guide to Power in Persuasion. Moscow, Idaho: Canon, 2011.
Lesson 10, “Pathos” pp. 53-57.
Pathos is a form of proof that many moderns find troubling. As children of the Enlightenment, Wilson says we are all about logic (Wilson 2011, 53). Yet we eventually need to resort to trust in all our decisions. “To prove something is ‘to obligate belief.’ The goal is to reveal something as true, and to do so in a way that resonates with the secondary witnesses of the consciences of your audience” (Wilson 2011, 53-54). Wilson reminds his readers that this kind of obligation is reserved for important issues. He goes on to distinguish between reason and emotion, but to say they cannot be maintained independently of each other (Wilson 2011, 55). He also cautions that it is a Hellenistic view that the reason always should guide our discussion. Rather, both [reason and emotion] must be subject to the authority of Scripture” (Wilson 2011, 55).
Using pathos is valid. However, as with all rhetorical methods, there is appropriate and inappropriate use. Choose the appropriate desired response and construct the appeal to emotion in such a way as to elicit that response from the specific audience at hand (Wilson 2011, 56).