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December 10, 1938

The Doctrine of Signatures: A Defence of Theory in Medicine

JAMA. 1938;111(24):2236-2237. doi:10.1001/jama.1938.02790500074027

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Abstract

This volume in the International Library of Psychology, Philosophy and Scientific Method under the editorship of Prof. C. K. Ogden of Cambridge University belongs in section C devoted to scientific method. In it a metaphysician prescribes a program for physic. He reverts to the classics, in which philosophy had a leading part, and shows how Plato, Aristotle and Galen established the demonstrative power of form and matter in the biologic and medical sciences, and pleads that its rediscovery and reestablishment in modern signatures would reinvigorate medical thinking and open new paths for released speculative energies now thwarted by the lack of an organized philosophy of medicine.

The doctrine of signatures assumes that the data of science are potential symbols and it calls on the liberal arts and sciences to develop, clarify and realize the potentialities of human observations. The practice of these arts and sciences ends in the discovery and

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