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(ăf`ərĭz'əm), short, pithy statement of an evident truth concerned with life or nature; distinguished from the axiom because its truth is not capable of scientific demonstration. HippocratesHippocrates
, c.460–c.370 B.C., Greek physician, recognized as the father of medicine. He is believed to have been born on the island of Cos, to have studied under his father, a physician, to have traveled for some time, perhaps studying in Athens, and to have then
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 was the first to use the term for his Aphorisms, briefly stated medical principles. Note his famous opening sentence: "Life is short, art is long, opportunity fleeting, experimenting dangerous, reasoning difficult."



a generalized, finalized, and profound idea of an author, expressed in laconic, refined form; it is distinguished by its apt expressiveness and obvious unexpectedness of judgment. Like a proverb, an aphorism does not prove or document but rather acts on the consciousness through the original formulation of a thought. The expressiveness of aphorisms increases with a decrease in the number of words; about three-fourths of all aphorisms consist of three to five words. Aphorisms are formed both in the context of scientific, philosophical, and artistic works and independently: “Mediocrity is more easily forgiven than talent” (E. Krotkii); “Each hears only what he understands” (J. W. Goethe); “Knowledge is power” (F. Bacon). The verbal fabric of aphorisms permits no changes.


Uspenskii, L. “Korotko ob aforizmakh.” In the collection Aforizmy. Compiled by E. S. Raize. Leningrad, 1964.
Asemissen, H. U. “Notizen über den Aphorismus.” Trivium. [Zürich,] 1949, no. 2.


References in periodicals archive ?
In this connection, there is a real difference in intention between the likes of the great seventeenth century French aphorist La Rochefoucauld and the eighteenth century English man of letters Samuel Johnson, since the former wrote mainly separate epigrams, while the latter's are embedded in longer work.
Morris may not have been an aphorist, but he certainly scored a few good ones.
Oscar Wilde--poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, aphorist, fabulist--invented gay culture.
His response to the situation of painting eschews melodrama, opting (here Searle borrows from Susan Sontag's description of the Romanian aphorist E.
Almost all my favorite characters are invited: not only Luther, Goethe, Wagner, and the other titans, but less familiar yet equally lovable figures such as the mystic Meister Eckhart, the aphorist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, and the bluestocking Rahel Levin Varnhagen.
Envall himself, well known as a seasoned writer and aphorist, presents Gracian as someone who has had a great influence on his own writing and thinking.
Lord Loam has three daughters, who are spoilt not so much rotten as vicious; one of them, the aggressive Lady Mary, is to be engaged to Lord Brocklehurst, a conventionally nincompoopish aristocrat totally under the thumb of his Lady Bracknell-type mother; and another, Lady Agatha, is to be engaged to Ernest Woolley, the younger son of an aristocrat and nephew of Lord Loam who fancies himself, quite mistakenly, an aphorist.
Emo Paasilinna, Finnish essayist and aphorist, late autumn, age 65.
Although most have been fairly slender -- about 75 pages on average -- all of them have borne impressive weight, and their author has been praised as today's foremost German-language aphorist.
In the exacting ledger of posterity, the aphorist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg rates high but is undeniably a specialty item.
In parallel, he became a leading aphorist and poet in his own right (six volumes from 1980 to 1994).
Himself a major aphorist, Markku Envall, at several points in his standard work Suomalainen aforismi (1987), has emphasized the centrality of Rekola in the creation of a new concept of the form.