Aristotle on the use of maxims

Elder and child (Taiwan, 1980's)

Elder and child (Taiwan, 1980's).
Image credit: Developmental Idealism Studies

The use of maxims, or sententious language, is appropriate in respect of age (time of life) to elders, and as to subjects, should be directed to those in which the speaker has experience; since for one who is not so far advanced in life to employ maxims is as unbecoming as story-telling (i. e. fables, legends, mythical stories), whilst to talk about things that one knows nothing of is a mark of folly and ignorance (or want of cultivation). A sufficient indication (of the truth of what has just been said, viz. that it is only the simpleton, or the ignorant and uneducated, that pronounces maxims upon subjects of which he knows nothing), is the fact that rustics (clowns, boors) are especially given to maxim-coining, and ever ready to shew them off (exhibit them).
Aristotle in The Rhetoric of Aristotle, Volume 2, translated with commentary by Edward Meredith Cope, edited by John Edwin Sandys, (Cambridge, England: University Press, 1877), p. 212.

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"The use of maxims, or sententious language"

Alternative Translation

The use of maxims is appropriate when the speaker is a person of some age and the subject one of which he has experience; for it is as unbecoming as storytelling in the mouths of the young, and in the absence of experience is a mark of folly and lack of culture, as indeed is sufficiently evident in the case of rustics who are always fond of coining maxims and ready to air them.
— Aristotle in The Rhetoric of Aristotle, translated by James Edward Cowell Welldon, (London; New York: Macmillan and Co., 1886), p. 187.

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"The use of maxims is appropriate"

Frequent Paraphrases

It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.

Aristotle Posted on behalf of Aristotle on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 under Quotations.

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