These are exercises in an old literary form, long disused but consecrated by La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld, Vauvenargues, and Chamfort to the distillation of philosophy. Some of Marx's Theses on Feuerbach undoubtedly belong to this tradition. A thought stands naked when expressed in a few words, and has only its native truth and beauty to survive upon. The maxim, or epigram, is thus the severest test of its own content. It needs to be clear, brief, and dialectical (since its inner movement generally derives from a collocation of opposites).
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