The Power of Aphorism
Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines “aphorism” as follows:
1 : a concise statement of a principle
2 : a terse formulation of a truth or sentiment : adage
Pascal wrote mainly in aphoristic style. I promise you that in brief sentences Pascal wrote, he said more than others could say in a volume. The power of aphorism is that it makes you think. In this regard, I think the power of aphorism is similar to the power of parable. Pascal does not lay out a thorough line of argumentation of premises and conclusion. He gives you some provocative nugget that gets at the heart of a matter and whets your appetite enough to make your own brain do some legwork.
One of my favorites:
“Descartes is useless and uncertain.”
Best and most succinct critique of Descartes that I’ve ever read. What is Pascal getting at when he says “useless” and “uncertain”?