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Aphoristic thoughts

Dirk Michael Schepers, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Aphoristic thoughts must be distinguished from their articulation in aphorisms, for they are found in all other genres of discourse as well. Within these discourses they present non-discursive points, i.e. points where the mind interrupts the linear progression of the text in order to stop and contemplate a momentary end of thinking. This study seeks to isolate the thought from thinking. It does so in a series of reflections on German, French and English aphoristic texts. These reflections explore a viable alternative to the contextualist paradigms of literary criticism, history, and philosophy. Instead of reintegrating the isolated thought in an extended historical narrative or critical argument, this method seeks to respond to it with another thought. The "context" of the thinker's thought is not a genre, a literal text, or field of inquiry, but a world that is only rarely textual in a literal sense. Unlike the disciplines to which most serious reflection is devoted, the aphoristic utterance makes sense outside a formal discipline. One motif around which the independent sections of this study are arranged are Goethe's and Nietzsche's thoughtful wanderer, exposed to the elements outside. Another is Nietzsche's gay or cheerful science, in which ultimately nihilistic ideals like certainty, consistency and truth are diagnosed, treated with and replaced by the wit, partiality and idiosyncracy of the aphorist. In addition, the study discusses aspects of the scholarship, addresses the problem of the aphoristic collection, and attempts an inventory of aphoristic ends.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Philosophy|Germanic literature|British and Irish literature|Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Schepers, Dirk Michael, "Aphoristic thoughts" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9721490.