Aphorisms and Philosophy : Contextualizing Aphoristic Texts-Assumptions about Subject-Matter

Marco A. Ángel Lara


This article analyses two current beliefs about the subject matter and the text-context relation of aphorisms. It is a commonly claimed that aphorisms are philosophical texts and that aphorisms are texts that function in isolation from any context. My hypothesis is that, instead of being descriptions of textual features, these beliefs act as conventions that prepare the field of reference for contextualizing texts and thus trigger a proper generic reading for certain kinds of aphoristic text. By helping to demystify some of the technical means of aphoristic writing (whose results are frequently described as concentrated or distilled wisdom), this hypothesis will highlight the importance of allusiveness for the current mainstream of aphorisms,. From the perspective of this article, aphorisms appear more as certain kinds of textual parasites, feeding off ‘contextual wisdom’, rather than being philosophical pills from the “wisdom of the ages”.


Philosophy; literature; genre theory; cultural studies; aphorisms

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.158

Copyright (c) 2011 Marco A. Ángel Lara

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