October 1964

Plagiarism and Identification

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1964;11(4):421-424. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1964.01720280067009

All civilized action is learned from parents and former generations. The very word we speak is, so to speak, a form of plagiarism, as it is borrowed from a cultivated treasury of words existing for ages and ages. Few individuals add new words or new concepts to the culture of their epoch and to history. In the process of continually repeating, plagiarizing, and reviewing inherited wisdom, people might find inspiration to renew, remold, and clarify what history and culture delivered to them.

Plagiarism belongs to the normal pattern of learning. Only a notion of unique individuality and originality seeks to change this continuous repetition of cultural expressions. A later developed emphasis on creative originality and especially on the material gain and status acquired by this originality has often confused the issue of what is bona fide plagiarism.

Even Milton said, "To borrow

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