1932

Abstract

The motivating engines of intellectual life are not true ideas but interesting ones. This article investigates the aphorism, the purest form of an interesting idea that draws the mind onward. It begins by examining the linguistic style of aphorisms, their reconceptions of experience from deceptive surfaces to more fundamental truths, their psychological and social effects on the vanity and status of their creators and conveyers, and the decline of their conceptual charisma into cliché until a surprising modification restarts the aphorism-cliché cycle. The investigation of aphorisms broadens to their intellectual and cultural contexts by examining their expansion into articles and collection into books, the different aspects of a topic revealed by aphoristic perspectives and scientific sequences, and the similarities (and differences) between aphoristic and postmodern ways of knowing. This article ends with a series of aphorisms on the cognitive substance of alluring knowledge, which distinguish some of the components of interesting ideas.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.soc.25.1.245
1999-08-01
2024-05-21
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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