The Seductive Beauty of Physiology
Botkin, Jeffrey R.
Journal of Clinical Ethics. 1992 Winter; 3(4): 274-277.
The experimental method does indeed dominate modern medicine, and our pursuit of the rational science of the organism continues to accelerate along logarithmic curves. I will suggest that this pursuit is certainly good, but that we must resist the belief that it is sufficient. A rational science of the organism is an appropriate goal for medical science but not for medicine. Fundamental changes in medical education are necessary to foster a broader perspective on the medical mission....Integral to this broader study of medicine is the recognition of uncertainty -- the uncertainty of medical knowledge, the uncertainty of personal limitations, and the uncertainty of human values. The resolution of these uncertainties is not imminent, so they must be recognized and embraced as reality and as a fundamental component of our work. Uncertainty must remain an intellectual irritant if medicine is to progress. It is the flight from uncertainty to false idols -- the rational science of the organism -- that risks the integrity of our profession and our true value as physicians.