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Logos in The Fallacy of Success

Logos Examples in The Fallacy of Success:

G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success"

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"That a thing is successful merely means that it is..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

To support his argument that “what is called Success” is functionally meaningless, Chesterton invents a definition for “Success” that is logically sound but potentially at odds with more common understandings of the word. To Chesterton, success is necessarily local, determined by the boundaries of the specific domain of action. For example, a donkey is just as successful as a millionaire, given that the former is involved in being a donkey and the latter in being a millionaire. Thus, there is no generalized definition of success; no success as such.

"I wish to quote the following exquisite paragraphs..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

By directly quoting a passage from one of the works he critiques, Chesterton appeals to both ethos and logos. He makes himself seem more credible by presenting his audience with evidence and he makes his argument seem more rational by critiquing his subject at the level of language. Referring to the quoted paragraphs as “exquisite” is a blatant use of irony; it is clear that Chesterton finds the prose of the “Success” writers unsuccessful, let alone exquisite.

"It is perfectly obvious..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

The phrase “it is perfectly obvious” establishes the ensuing statement as the only logical possibility. As far as Chesterton is concerned, “Success” can only be attributed to hard work or cheating. There is no mystical, Platonic specter of Success to be wooed or pursued. While the phrase “it is perfectly obvious” is intellectually heavy-handed, it helps Chesterton make the case for a limited definition of “Success,” which is important for his overall argument.

"passing over the bad logic and bad philosophy in the phrase,..."   (G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success")

After setting forth and supporting his own interpretation of “Success,” Chesterton describes the definition he will be contending with for the remainder of the essay. Though the writers of “Success” literature fail to define “Success” as such, Chesterton assumes that their aims are among the most time-tested and Darwinian: money and status. By criticizing the “bad logic and bad philosophy” of his subject, Chesterton makes an appeal at the level of logos.

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