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August 1956

Speculative Trends in Electrophysiology: Lessons in Humility Derived from a Survey of Our Historic Continuity with the Past

Author Affiliations

St. Louis

From the Division of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1956;76(2):187-197. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1956.02330260073007

The past gives us our vocabulary and fixes the limits of our imagination; we cannot get away from it. There is, too, a peculiar logical pleasure in making manifest the continuity between what we are doing and what has been done before. But the present has a right to govern itself so far as it can; and it ought always to be remembered that historic continuity with the past is not a duty, it is only a necessity.

—"Learning and Science."

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

How far is it permissible to let theory outrun fact? Zeno's paradox was a commonplace of an older logic: Give a turtle a head start and it is never overtaken by Achilles. Cerebral electrophysiology has much promise if exploited in the ways of science, little if tempted too far into speculation as a substitute for reality. Judged by published accounts of the various symposia that

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