Jack Ma’s Speech at Forum for World Education: A Rhetorical Analysis
1. Analyze a recent persuasive speech (within the past three years) utilizing each of Aristotle’s three artistic proofs: logos, ethos, pathos. You can pull from different branches of government and/or occasions, and various issues.
2. Identify the speaker, speech, and occasion.
3. Source all examples from the same speech to examine the interrelation between the modes of proof.
4. Feel free to use any of the terms and concepts for each type of proof.
- For instance, you could identify an enthymeme and/or a series of examples for logos.
- You could also analyze intelligence, character, and/or goodwill as the primary method of establishing ethos.
- You could recognize the speaker’s evocation of any of the emotions as an example of pathos.
5. For each concept, develop a clear thesis in one paragraph (three paragraphs total, approximately one page each).
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Jack Ma’s Speech at Forum for World Education: A Rhetorical Analysis
According to Aristotle, how well a speech is presented depends on the speaker’s appeal to the audience in three different areas; logos, ethos, and pathos. In logos, the speaker seeks to appeal to reason; ethos appeal to the writer’s character and pathos appeals to the emotions, values, and sympathetic imagination (Wang, p.106). Utilizing Aristotle’s three artistic/rhetorical forms, this study will seek to evaluate Jack Ma’s 2019 speech at Forum for World Education in Paris, France (Alibaba Group). Jack Ma’s speech was about the need for education to keep up in this fast-changing world.
First, Aristotle opines that logos refers to “the speech itself, in so far as it proves or seems to prove.” Aristotle then adds that logos should be referred to as the “rational appeal.’’ This calls for the speech to create a sense of reasoning which could be inductive or deductive, thus inviting the audience to make logical connections to the speech (Wang, p.106). This concept of reasoning also includes enthymematic reasoning built on solid proof. In his speech about the need to redraw the curriculum to conform to the present and future needs, Jack Ma tells the audience using examples of how present-day education is largely not in tandem with the current world’s needs. Jack Ma mentions how the problems of the 21st century are different from that of the past. While this is the case, he laments how most world countries have not seriously engaged in programs to change their current education systems. With rising globalization, Jack Ma even proposes the possibility of a standardized global curriculum at some point. With most recent education research calling for a change in education systems, it is observed that Jack Ma’s speech is built on solid proof and/or impeccable reasoning. Also, with most countries aligning curriculum systems with their current and future needs, Jack Ma’s speech passes the rational appeal test because of its conformity to the present realities in education. Logos in Jack ma speech is when he said, “It’s the fast-developing China that created Alibaba,” and “Alibaba was born in China but serves the world.” The phrase “serves the world” is an example of how Alibaba is trying to bridge the gap between China and other countries.
Second, ethos refers to the audience’s sense of what is proper. Speakers use ethos to persuade others about social causes and matters of social significance like environmental pollution, poaching, slavery, and such profound social concerns (Wang, p.110). Jack Ma utilizes ethos well by appealing to his audience on the need to have a deep think of the efficacies of the educational curriculum as in most parts of the world. He tells the audience about the need to make schooling the same as a zoo (Alibaba Group). Jack uses this analogy to try and persuade the educational experts in attendance to craft educational systems that capture the competencies of all learners. Since zoos have many different types of animals in their custody, Jack feels that the education systems should be inclusive. The audience also seems to agree with his sentiments, judging from the nods and claps between Jack Ma’s speeches. It is moral and ethical that education is inclusive for all learners. Jack Ma’s speech is observed to contain elements of ethos, thus making it effective. Aristotle believes that ethos should gain the audience’s trust in what is being said (Wang, p.107). In order to create this sense of trust, the speaker must be seen as a credible and reliable source. Furthermore, the effective use of ethos could also help build a relationship with the audience. In Jack Ma’s speech, he often tries to connect with the audience by sharing personal stories. For instance, he reminisces about his childhood when he had to work hard to earn money. He also thanks France for being one of the earliest countries to invest in Alibaba Group. These personal stories help build a rapport with the audience and make him appear relatable. In addition, by sharing his successes and failures, Jack Ma allows the audience a glimpse into his character. It is observed that the ethos appeal is effective in Jack Ma’s speech because it helps to build a relationship with the audience and make him appear credible.
Third, when evaluating Jack Ma’s appeal by pathos, it is observed that pathos hinges on the emotional appeal aspects of the speech. While the agreement is that humans are rational individuals, the fact is that humans are, in part, emotional and driven by their self-need and interests (Wang, p.107). Jack uses this rhetorical form by calling for an education system that caters to different types of learners. Jack Ma mentions how he failed his college entrance exams multiple times and how the systems in place at that period were partly to blame. By using self-mocking strategies in his speech, Jack Ma sought to appeal to the educationists in attendance on the need to develop learner-centered curriculums. He does this by presenting himself as one of the many students who had to endure education systems that favor first learners and/or children who are competent in certain subjects. Jack tries to tell his audience the story of his success as a high school teacher who founded the giant corporation Alibaba. In the speech, he comes out as persuasive through the application of pathos in his presentation. An example of Pathos in Jack’s speech is when he talks about his struggle in college, “I failed my college entrance exams three times. The biggest reason was that the system just didn’t fit me. Those were the days when China was poor, and the world was rich. The educational system was designed to train people to work for others. If you didn’t excel in tests, you have deemed a loser” (forumforworldeducation.org). This story is meant to tug at the audience’s heartstrings and evoke an emotional response. The goal of pathos is to convince the audience of the need to take any action, and it is observed that Jack Ma’s speech achieves this goal.
In summarizing, this study notices three rhetorical forms: logos, ethos, and pathos. The study notices that Jack Ma is a brilliant public speaker who includes logos, ethos, and pathos in his speech to make it more effective. The study concludes that Jack Ma’s speech is rhetorically effective because of the use of ethos, logos, and pathos. The three forms of proof work together to create a powerful, persuasive speech.
Alibaba Group. “Jack Ma: Education Needs to Keep up with Fast-Changing World.” YouTube, Alibaba Group, 5 Dec. 2019. https://youtu.be/a8WZphmjsL4.
Lin, Wang. “Three Modes of Rhetorical Persuasion.” Sino-US English Teaching 16.3 (2019): 106-112. http://www.davidpublisher.com/Public/uploads/Contribute/5cc1077dd950d.pdf
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