Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A figure of speech in which the speaker expresses or purports to be in doubt about a question.
  • n. An insoluble contradiction or paradox in a text's meanings.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An expression of deliberation with oneself regarding uncertainty or doubt as to how to proceed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A figure in which the speaker professes to be at a loss what course to pursue, where to begin to end, what to say, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In rhetoric, a professed doubt where to begin or what to say on account of the variety of matter.
  • n. An equality of reasons for and against a given proposition.
  • n. In pathology, febrile anxiety; uneasiness.
  • n. Also apory.

Etymologies

Greek, difficulty of passing, from aporos, impassable : a-, without; see a-1 + poros, passage; see per-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin aporia, from Ancient Greek ἀπορία, from ἄπορος (aporos, "impassable"), from ἀ- ("a-") + πόρος (poros, "passage"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • This aporia is a condition that can only be met by the gut, and the heart.

    Wherever You Go, There You Are | Her Bad Mother

  • But his ineptitude in not changing the wording of the bordering text left a "literary seam" (what rhetoricians might term aporia) that sticks out like a pimpled nose.

    MoJo Blogs and Articles

  • The impasse between the two, which Derrida called aporia, the Greek word for the impasse itself, is that we want both the conditional and unconditional at the same time but, yet, at the same time we don't want either of them because each of them has a shortcoming. "

    Penn State Live

  • I am ashamed that I did not know the word "aporia" until today, but I'm grateful to you all for introducing me to it.

    Perfume Review: Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

  • This points ot an "aporia" in the cultural psychology of the term "religion", a Janus-faced knot, which some of the instruments in the archive of "postmodernism" or "postcolonialism" can help to articulate as you have pointed out yourself in your following comment.

    Archive 2008-11-01

  • This set of facts does not add up to an "aporia" or a "conceptual catachresis," as Guillory claims (215, 216); there is no logical impasse here — nor even a pragmatic or institutional one, as becomes obvious as soon as we broaden our horizon and look at the diverse kinds of critical projects that de Manian theory has in fact inspired over the last twenty years.

    Professing Literature: John Guillory's Misreading of Paul de Man

  • In ancient Greece this might go under the name of "aporia".

    Philosophy Blog

  • In his 2004 study No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, Lee Edelman manoeuvred queer theory into a kind of aporia and thus deep crisis that persists to this day.

    In the Middle

  • Comparing Shiv and Sahir is a an act of blindness - the term is often used in literary criticism under more respectable names such as 'aporia' but then aporia is applied to philosophical impasse and uncertainties.

    Kafila

  • From 'aporia' to 'yes', the Dictionary suggests ways into Derrida that show what is at stake in his work.

    AvaxHome RSS:

Comments

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  • JM is at a loss to explain aporia.

    January 10, 2011

  • ah poor ria- a philosophical puzzle or state of puzzlement in rhetoric, a rhetorically useful expression of doubt

    September 17, 2008

  • A paradox, an answer-less riddle.

    What am I to do, what shall I do, what should I do, in my situation, how proceed? By aporia pure and simple? - Beckett, The Unnamable

    March 23, 2008

  • A fine Aristotelian word -- The Philosopher often introduced aporiai as a way of motivating the discussion.

    December 30, 2006