We Are What We Think. - James Geary
I’m fond of quotations and aphorisms. In this book Geary gives a history of this art of capturing a powerful truth in a handful of words, and along the way shares some of his favourites.
He outlines the distinction between scientific knowledge in which every age ought to surpass its predecessors, and ‘the wisdom of ages’ the collective term for what we’ve learned about human nature through the experience of thousands of years of history. This second type of knowledge in which we know about as much, or as little as the Taoist sage Lao Tzu, who lived in China about 600 years before Christ, is the wisdom naturally embodied in aphorisms.
He begins by outlining what he calls the Five Laws defining that an aphorism must be:-
•Have a twist
The book then provides an overview of the best exponents of the form, beginning with the ancient sages, preachers and prophets, right through to the writers of today, from Buddha to Jenny Holzer and alludes to the aphoristic tendency we all have for the short message, whether by text or email.
This is an interesting overview of the history and the power of the aphorism.