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September 29, 1906


JAMA. 1906;XLVII(13):1027. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.02520130051011

A considerable portion of the recent opening address1 of Professor Gotch before the Section on Physiology of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was given to an attack on "neo-vitalism." The principal point made against it was the objection to the admission that physico-chemical explanations must necessarily be insufficient to explain the vital phenomena, and the claim that such admission obstructs physiologic progress. This seems to us equivalent to a confession of weakness and, as it were, an inference that human knowledge is exhaustible or must be assumed so to be in order to encourage the workers. Why should the admission of the fact that there will always be something ahead of us to be explained be a discouragement to the physiologist any more than it is to the astronomer to recognize the fact that he can not look forward to the establishment of the limits of