Thank You for Arguing: Introduction to Rhetoric

Interlacing sounds of a conversation

Chapter One

Jay Heinrichs, the author of Thank You for Arguing, opens with a story about his son.  While Heinrichs notices an empty tube of toothpaste in the bathroom he asks his son if he used it all. His son quickly shoots back with the fact that the point is not whether or not he used it all, but rather how he will keep this from happening again. Heinrichs concedes and asks his son to get a new tube, which he does. Looking back on the conversation, Heinrichs decides he won the argument because he made his son believe that he had won the argument. This is how Heinrichs introduces the art of rhetoric, which he describes as a vital tool for any parent. Heinrichs discusses the history of rhetoric and describes his reasoning or writing this book. He wants to persuade people that rhetoric is an important part of life and that if one learns how to properly use rhetoric it can help them in their daily lives. Heinrichs introduces the art of seduction which is the cornerstone of any successful argument. Even Aristotle knew the importance of seduction.

Chapter Two

Heinrichs details the difference between arguing and fighting. In an experiment done in the 1980s, scientists concluded that couples with “healthy marriages” argued just as much as couples with “unhealthy marriages” but in more productive ways. These couples didn’t use argument as a way of attacking each other, but as a tool to approach compromise. Heinrich describes the three steps to seduction which are 1) stimulate their emotions, 2) change their opinion, and 3) get them to act. Heinrich says that one way to get someone to act is to make it seem easy. He describes how he used to work in publishing and his firm published a book called The South Beach Diet: The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss. Heinrich didn’t think the book would be a success yet, it became a best seller. This is because the title of the book makes dieting seem easy and desirable.


Chapter Four

Heinrich introduces the three ways to persuade according to Aristotle. These three ways are 1) argument by character, or ethos, 2) argument by logic or logos, and 3) argument by emotion, or pathos. Heinrich uses his childhood to describe the three easily. Logos is the “smart child” who always gets good grades in school. Ethos is the “charismatic child” who gets elected class president. Pathos is the “disrespectful child” who gets away with everything.

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