Saturday 1 September 2001

Aphorisms in Lyric (2001)

From The Philosopher, Volume LXXXVIIII No. 2 Autumn 2001

St. Matthew Writing from a Medieval Book of Hours (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

A Christian Sense in Philosophy   

By Zura Shiolashvili  

Aphorisms can be seen as an art: making the best connection between existing knowledge so as to reveal some truth through the shortest expression. There seem to be two conditions for achieving this: first, the aphorism must be both profound in the thought that it expresses (not just a commonplace or triviality) and the language used must be strong yet terse. If all of these are achieved, the aphorism can be both enlightening and memorable.

Very few philosophers have tried to use this approach in their philosophy, although it was certainly there in the Ancient tradition of the Chinese sages, as well as in the writings of Parmenides and other Ancients. More recently, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein seemed to write almost in aphorisms. Here Zura Shiolashvili sets out to prove the case.

A word is like a brush that paints a picture, and its creator tries to breathe heart and a soul into it, whilst simultaneously expressing the sounds of nature, philosophy, music... An aphorism is seen then as a merging of art and philosophy - the separation of which, one from the other would leave just small pieces, devaluing that eloquent picture intended to guide us towards the truth.

Or an aphorism can be characterised as being like a valuable stone. The purer a stone is, the more precious. The same too, with the thought. But thoughts from the top of the true art have to captivate us not only with the beauty of their summits - but with the depth of their precipices as well. And these are precipices that should be filled with love - for the more saintly the basis of thought is, then the more brilliance its fruit will display, and it is the brilliance of the colours of this very fruit that represent philosophy. The fruit is its wisdom, the sainthood, its truth.

The free body with its instinct is the same beast that fights for existence. As the equilibrium of life is in pleasure, the beast is excited towards a pleasure by that bestial part which is within it. For the gained freedom is the loveliness of its passion, in this loveliness it gratifies the whim and finds its equilibrium.

It is difficult to be heartless by bewitching senses and allowing their jollification in the vivifying world. To go deeper - is it worth sacrificing ourselves for the pleasure of such attractiveness if it betrays the genuine essence - betrays the beauty? And when the glamour of body subjugates us, displacing that love which embodies our second source of cognition, our conversion into mere animals is happening.

To be insatiable with brutish passion is to be similar to the swine. Yet, in spite of that, the symbol of the swine's freedom is dirt . . . life is pleasant even for the swine. In the end, to close the book, we can give to all colourations of these views another face with the same meaning. If we tie together these points in one bunch of ideas, and then model a little sculpture from them, like a sample of art, indeed this should not be named prose, poem or wisdom, but merely the sculpture that it is. But its philosophical idea will be common for all of them . . .

Embroidery of each word with the thread of truth provides us not only with a supply of meaning to mediate on, but physically impacts on our feelings, making us more humane. In the emptiness of consciousness with the image of thoughts, it sparks such a beauty that before it the whole brightness of materialism is seen to be worthless.

Answers to questions connected with the spirit and its values too often leave a distinct emptiness in the heart, and the reason for this emptiness is the superficiality of these answers. Imperfect, they are unable to exist long. In this way aphorisms claim to be to be the beautiful answer for the replenishment of this emptiness.

One of the main functions of the frame by which they are styled is the personification of the punctually exact thought. On the one hand, as the complicated solution of an equation, which always gives our consciousness a possibility to breathe out, on the other, this solution reveals a grain of the new thought that is by now philosophy in itself. The content of wisdom could be called a key to a science of the soul, the science through which we shall create and conceptualise ourselves. For if we cannot conceive ourselves like this, what are we? Where are we from?

Scientific research about the universe is unconsummated - a frame made for the picture and not vice versa. The limit that divides and connects the soul and material world is that miracle we call God - and for believers the belief in this miracle will lead to a solution to the equation - to the questions science and philosophy generate.

One of the main reasons for matter's formation is in the emptiness in which it is yielded up, and without which it could not exist. So, it is that with the blend of the matter and emptiness, existence springs up this is where the thought builds its nest. If we recognise that this world embodies the little fruit of cosmic energy in which the thought exists, how much more real is the existence of such an element? And then the Questions: What is thought? From where has it been originated? Through what kind of nature do human minds mediate ?

Philosophy is unimaginable without wisdom, or is it that wisdom could not be without philosophy? The essence of both is truth, and their indivisible connections may be the only true art - so without this art both wisdom and philosophy are unimaginable. With it, their harmony is like the perfume of that fascinating garden which makes us drunk with the hope of eternity. And to be fully sober in such a garden is not only the negation of their beauty, but a kind of blindness too.

True words always charm and stay invariable. Through their thoughts we go somewhere far away, and not only to this extent. And the beauty of that perception which only human nature can neither imagine nor create nor conceptualise...

To the aphorisms...

Address for crrespondence

Zura Shiolashvili, email:

For publication of my writings my special thanks to:

The editorial board of The Philosopher;

Martin Cohen through whose efforts many versions for this publication have been done;
the online magazine New York Review
and Janice Curran-Koppell;
to Dawn A. Phillips,
S. Rebecca Bamford,
Simon P. James,

– at Philosophical Writings.

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