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Looking Backward for Profit and Pleasure

Arch Surg. 1979;114(4):549. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1979.01370280203034.
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To the Editor.–The fine editorial page of the September 1978 issue of the Archives (113:1033, 1978) is worthy of complimentary comment. Properly, the author thereof brought into focus the dearth of knowledge the rising young professional men and women possess concerning medical history. This younger medicosurgical generation is losing one of the intellectual, pleasurable rewards that is a supplement and intrinsic corollary to the medical discipline.

Medical history not only gives "perspective to performance," as stated in the editorial, but it has been appropriately stated by Goethe that "the history of science is science itself." Although historical medicine is not essentially a contribution to medical science, it is nevertheless a didactic warning beacon in medical practice. That the modern physician and surgeon should be a cultured person is a foregone conclusion. The basis for all culture is a knowledge of history. Thus, the cultured people of medicine can combine a


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