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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
Although it is somewhat elaborate in its production of terms and categories, Shaw's study is important in its claim to recover wisdom in a time when it is in decline and in the insights it offers into various kinds of oracular and aphoristic writing.
I listen for the effects of the dialectic of this motility and symbolic elements in musical expression and seek the implications of its "productive breaks and disjunctions." In the musical construction of "Uber die Grenzen" stylistic norms and verbal signs in the compositional organization create "pivots" of intelligibility (to quote Mailarme), which the aphoristic play--in verbal disjunction, atonal motion, timbral experimentation, and textural shifts--breaks open.
He criticized Michael Moore and America in his usual clipped, aphoristic, incisive manner.
Here, the ethnic does not aspire toward being fulfilled in an overall national allegory; thus the parallel between the paratactic, aphoristic style of van Herk's work, where the reader is faced with so many pauses that any illusion of coherence is forestalled, and her disjunctive stance toward ethnicity resists generic norms that leave the identities of both writers and readers intact.
She has given voice and nuance to the kinds of stories normally reduced to aphoristic pro or con arguments: What happens to Hancock's women is by turns infuriating, gratifying, startling, and sad, but none of it is simple.
This book does not give enough meat for the academic, and it is too rushed and aphoristic for the student reader.
proverbs and the aphoristic educational tradition in Wyatt's
Now, at the phenomenal age of 101, Chaudhuri has published a kind of coda to these books, a prophetic and mordantly aphoristic essay on contemporary decadence.
The most important restorations from the typescript are the divider lines which impart a new rhythm to the imagistic descriptions and aphoristic reflections of Lawrence's travel writing.
However, the comparison with Christmas cards is apt in more ways than one: the poems are, perhaps because of the size of each page, aphoristic and direct.
Lowith's book is divided into eight chapters (with prefaces and appendices) that include discussions of topics such as Nietzsche's aphoristic writing style (chap.