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January 1994

History Repeats Itself: Connections and Causality in the Study of Surgical Infections

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Arch Surg. 1994;129(1):21-26. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1994.01420250033003

Today, I have chosen to discuss several disparate areas of social and biological evolution that led to surgery, and more particularly the study of surgical infection becoming a discipline within the field of medicine. I am sure that all of you are quite familiar with George Santayana's quotation that I have used for the epigram of my address.1 Herein I will pursue several areas of the study of physiological evolution that have led to a number of important theories of causes and causality, as well as societal evolution, and examine some seemingly disparate connections with the past. I strongly believe that these connections have led to much of our current progress in the study of surgical infectious disease but also serve to put our current research in perspective.

Interest in historical cycles pervades literature and science. For example, even Salvador Dali took an interest in this topic when he

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