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Letter from Albert Einstein Rhetorical Analysis

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In the world of science there are few names that can measure up to Albert Einstein. He was genius, and we can credit him with some of the most important findings in history. His theory of relativity was a cornerstone in modern physics and he is best known for his mass- energy equivalence formula, which has been dubbed the world’s most famous equation of all time. He was born in 1879 in the German Empire to a Jewish family and attended college at age 17. Although a famous scientist, he was also influential with his words, demonstrated through this letter to young Phyllis Wright.

The tone of this letter is unemotional and stern in a sense. The context of this letter is an answer back to Phyllis from a previous letter asking Albert if scientists pray. The purpose in this letter is to open Phyllis’s mind to the world of science. The speaker is Albert Einstein and the audience is Phyllis and anyone else that read the letter. The subject is the matter of whether or not scientists pray.

In the first paragraph Albert Einstein tells Phyllis what scientific research is based on: “the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of nature”(line 2). This appeals to logos because the laws of nature are proven to exist and most things can be experimented on. In response to her question, he also gives his opinion: “a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer”(line 4). Of course he cannot speak for every scientist, but because Albert Einstein holds such a high amount of automatic ethos, his opinion counts for much more than the average scientist.

The entire second paragraph is a counterargument to his purpose, but in the end he refutes this argument by telling of the success of scientific research. This has a huge appeal to logos because it shows he is smart enough to see the subject from different perspectives.

In the third and final paragraph Albert Einstein connects science with religion: “every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe”(line 9). The ongoing argument of science against religion is a touchy subject to some people and Albert does not discredit either. He not only presents himself as a scientist, but also as a respectable person.

This letter is powerful because it steers away from Phyllis’s question without the reader even noticing. Instead his focus was to promote scientific research in the thoughts of a young person with a hungry mind. Albert Einstein closes his letter very cordially and leaves Phyllis and the reader with the feeling that the pursuit of science is the worthy goal. Albert Einstein’s response is rhetorically effective without the appeal to pathos. His purpose has been fulfilled through the use of logos and ethos and very readily so, given his brilliance and stature as an influential scientist of his time.

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