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September 1964

The History of Scientific Ideas

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(3):317-320. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860090051001

If the traditional history of the past has emphasized and wallowed in wars and emperors, armies and dynasties, political schemes, conspiracies, plots, and all the immediacy of murder and sudden death, the history of the present and even more the history of the future, if there is to be one, must be tempered by understanding. The human being as scientist, or more simply and hopefully as a rational man, must emerge and lead us. But not as just a scientist, for the world has seen too much of scientists who are nothing else. We must look to men of good learning and of good will who are scientists.

It is easy for us to look back at our predecessors and recognize their follies. If indeed a knowledge of history enables us to avoid some of the errors of the past, it is because language and books help man to profit

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