A Theory of the Aphorism: From Confucius to Twitter

An engaging look at the aphorism, the shortest literary form, across time, languages, and cultures


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Published (US):
Nov 17, 2020
Published (UK):
Dec 3, 2020
5.5 x 8.5 in.
15 b/w illus.
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Aphorisms—or short philosophical sayings—appear everywhere, from Confucius to Twitter, the Buddha to the Bible, Heraclitus to Nietzsche. Yet despite this ubiquity, the aphorism is the least studied literary form. What are its origins? How did it develop? Were the enigmatic sayings of charismatic sages the original “social media”? And why do some of our most celebrated modern philosophers use aphoristic fragments to convey their deepest ideas? In A Theory of the Aphorism, Andrew Hui crisscrosses histories and cultures to answer these questions and more. Encompassing literature, philology, and philosophy, A Theory of the Aphorism invites us to reflect anew on the meaning of this pithiest of literary forms.

Awards and Recognition

  • One of FiveBooks' Best Philosophy Books of 2019