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June 1988

Humanism and the Humanities

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(6):1470. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380060234045

To the Editor.  —It is easy to confuse humanism with the humanities. Eichmann, we are told, listened to Brahms and Haydn while watching the crematoria chimneys. If the curriculum returned to basics and produced a physician secure in his clinical craft, a less frustrated and more humane physician would re-emerge. Drs Alpert and Coles' reforms would be a happy route to this goal.But I would like them to expound on exactly what they mean when they write of not expecting a medical student to master the same "volume" of biological science as a Doctor of Philosophy. Why not? I would certainly want my doctor to have mastered sufficient biological concepts as to permit his nonobsolescence. As for "volume," does one speak of the volume of symphonies audited, the volume of gourmet meals ingested, or the volume of spiritual enlightenment attained? Perhaps by "volume" they are not referring to concepts,

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