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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."
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
[As the eighteenth-century German scientist and aphorist Georg Christoph] Lichtenberg [wrote in one of his "waste books"]: "He could split a thought which everyone considered simple into seven others, as a prism splits sunlight; and each one of them always surpassed the one before.
Even as a man of letters, as a leading aphorist and Tacitist in his day, Antonio Perez has remained underrated in Spain.
(3) Nancy Miller, in a recent appraisal of Sontag's career, takes this assessment further, stating that the Barthes essay is a record of all the Sontags--past, present and future: "In her reading of [Barthes's] reading, [...] Sontag both offers a portrait of herself as the writer she has been ('aphorist' and 'modernist') and strangely anticipates the changes that will arise twenty years later in her own writing.
The aphorist and (so to coin) the witticist practice
His leading roles in this book, which begins with his childhood and ends just before his death, include aphorist, ironist, aesthete, ruthless politicker, publicist, portraitist, critic, would-be bon vivant, sick boy, and then some.
Chesterton And Evil by Mark Knight (Lecturer in the School of English and Modern Languages at the Roehampton University of Surrey, England) provides contemporary readers with an informed and informative analysis of the writings of poet, journalist, critic, biographer, novelist, aphorist, Gilbert Keith Chesterton with an especial focus upon Chesterton's attitudes with the problem of evil in contemporary society.
But it is also occasionally true, as American aphorist Mason Cooley noted, "People who expect deference resent mere civility."
(6.) The aphorist Mason Cooley once quipped, "Self-sacrifice usually contains an unspoken demand for payment." The Columbia World of Quotations No.
Sadly, being an aphorist is often a thankless endeavor.
The scientist-protagonist (the aphorist Lichtenberg), is anything but the hero of a scientific narrative: rather, the focus is on his complex and not entirely laudable relationship with a young girl.
Franklin celebrate, though, we should caution him to remember the insight of another well-known aphorist: "It ain't over 'til it's over." States will be tested again this year as Congress and the president take up unfinished business, such as election reform and broadband legislation, and as they move on to other significant issues, including welfare reform and surface transportation reauthorization.