An aphorism usually manifests itself in one sentence. He brings to the point what he is going to say, briefly, but full of mental depth (or mental malice). In a sentence that starts like an unexpected news. First he circles in his head, then sits down, and one comes to delight in him, to smile at him, or to annoy him. He gives you something like a bittersweet medicine. Like this one by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg:
“It is well to live in the world, but not in the truth.”
Many terms can be traced back to Greek, as is the word aphorism . It comes from aphorizein , which means as much as detach, from something demarcate. An aphorism is a summary thought, so to speak the result of a (longer) thought chain. A thought-splinter that scratches, teases, scratches, amuses, and at the same time pensive.
Often, these thought splints, because they run a well-known sentence or proverb, connect two really contrasting images, play with words in an unusual way, or represent a situation over-pointed.
In addition to the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832), whose aphoristic biographies are recorded in his maxims and reflections , and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), who often seized his cultural criticism in short, intelligent sentences, is one of the best known German aphorist of the natural scientist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742 -1799).
Lichtenberg was the 17th child of an evangelical clergyman and a devoted mother and a Sunday child. An overgrown vertebral column was hard for him, so he had what is called a hump. But very small in shape, he grew inwardly. When the children teased him, he repaid them by his speech. He was anything but a stool and in company he was always for jokes and pranks. He was interested in many things, liked to travel extensively in the sciences, especially in chemistry, mathematics and astronomy, but not less in literature. From 1770 until his death he was Professor of Physics in Göttingen and the most popular teacher for his students far and wide. In one of his notebooks,
“When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard,must it always have come from the book?”