At one point, Murdoch spoke a lovely aphorism. Philosophy, she said, "means looking at things which one takes for granted and suddenly seeing that they are very odd indeed."
Now, this isn't a particularly arresting aphorism. Nor is it especially accurate - there's more to philosophy than 'overcoming common sense' (as Heidegger put it, in agreement). But it's accurate enough to do its job, which is to be illuminating, clarifying, compelling.
And, together with Murdoch's uncanny, penetrating gaze, this led me to recognise the chief virtue of the aphorism: courage.
Of course the aphorist must be intelligent, articulate, and perhaps witty (but not necessarily). But the crucial thing is a certain boldness; a willingness to offer, without padding or scaffolding, a vision of the world. To aphorise is to take a risk; to gamble that the tiny, naked statement will repay you with an elegant, arresting glimpse of truth.
The aphorism is proof of this: we care enough about truth to risk our pride in discovering it.