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December 19, 1931


JAMA. 1931;97(25):1892-1893. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02730250050017

More than a century ago Laënnec, writing in the first volume of the Archives générales de médecine,1 remarked that the aim of medicine is the cure of disease. For the attainment of this end Laënnec singled out three pathways, described by Cohn2 as (1) that of the empiricists, who considered it sufficient to distinguish diseases by their apparent signs, (2) that of those who believed it possible to disclose the causes of disease without giving themselves the trouble of learning their effects, and (3) that of those who believed it was necessary to understand the diseases. Cohn adds, by way of interpreting or perhaps of supplementing Laënnec's meaning, that we believe it necessary as the basis of therapeutics to understand the mechanisms, that is to say, the processes which underlie the manifestations of disease, for it is these which it is one of our functions to attempt to

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