A Theory of the Aphorism - Deepstash
A Theory of the Aphorism

A Theory of the Aphorism

Andrew Hui

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A book that explores some 2,500 years of literature

This post is about a book that explores some 2,500 years of literature in less than 250 pages to establish an aphorism theory. From Confucius to Heraclitus, from the Gospel (apocryphal) of Thomas to Erasmus, Bacon, Pascal, Nietzsche up to, nothing less than, to Twitter, to Zengo (in Japanese "progressive enlightenment") and Sutra (the speeches of the Buddha)


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A Hidden Purpose

A Hidden Purpose

Aphorisms, on the other hand, have a "philosophical or theological" and "more hidden" purpose. The best aphorisms admit an infinity of interpretations, a hermeneutic inexhaustibility. "Therefore, what is said" requires interpretation "which must be understood along precise lines bearing in mind that the aphorism offers the maximum condensation and promises an infinity of meaning ( "infinite" is the favorite word in this book.) But the shorter the aphorism, the longer it takes to understand it.


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But what is an "aphorism"? 

The root of the word is the same as "horizon". The Greek verb "horizo" means "to delimit". Horizon is originally the circle that opens to the eye. 

Francesco da Buti, Dante's fourteenth-century commentator, offers us a precise definition: "The horizon is the terminative circle of our view". 

No less precise is Italian Poet Tasso in the "Created World": "What human sight ended / in the dark and lucid borders/horizon was said".


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A Short Saying

A Short Saying

Hui defines it as "a short saying that requires interpretation" and distinguishes it from related genres such as proverbs, maxims and epigrams. While proverbs and sayings are "near the trivial extreme" and "easy to understand" (eg, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"), maxims and epigrams are "somewhere in between", containing "an acute synthesis" (eg "An almost universal fault of lovers is not understanding when they are most loved").


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