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August 1965

The Philosophy of Style.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(2):304. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870020144028

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Herbert Spencer, who carved a mighty empire as a philosopher of science nearly a hundred years ago, discourses upon the philosophy of style in this essay. Often he does it stylishly enough. He begins with a cheerful quotation from Tristram Shandy who says he was struck by the incongruity between his father's great powers in argument and his supreme ignorance of formal logic when he allowed, "It was a matter of just wonder with my worthy tutor, and two or three fellows of that learned society, that a man who knew not so much as the names of his tools, should be able to work after that fashion with them." And the same point is applied to grammar and illustrated by Dr. Latham's condemning "school drill" in the remark, "Gross vulgarity is a fault to be prevented; but the proper prevention is to be got from habit—not rules." He then

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