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November 8, 1902


JAMA. 1902;XXXIX(19):1189-1190. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.02480450039008

In a recent address before the British Association for the Advancement of Science Prof. W. D. Halliburton1 remarked that the revival of the vitalistic conception in physiologic work appeared to him a retrograde step. It is, in his opinion, a confession of ignorance and, what is still worse, a bar to progress. Why a confession of ignorance should be a bad thing is not at once apparent to every one; it has not heretofore been so considered by the greater menof science. Sir Isaac Newton is, of course, not a modern authority, but there are workers of the present day who, like him, appreciate the limitations of their acquisitions and modestly esteem themselves as only gatherers of pebbles on the shore with the great sea of knowledge still spread out before them. The vitalistic conception of the present day is simply the admission that there is something in living