HAVE great ideas become obsolete? Take the ancient concept of good and evil, for example: the recurrent theme of the Bible, Dante, Milton, Dostoevski, Melville, Faulkner, and Solzhenitzyn. Has our technological existence left any room for their stories of "the human heart in conflict with itself"? Malcolm Muggeridge, the urbane former editor of Punch, appearing on William Buckley's "Firing Line," put it this way: "When I bring up the subject of Good and Evil, my audiences don't even know what I'm talking about." Some popular philosophies simply dismiss the old verities. Modern living in assembly lines and discotheques, at cocktail parties, and in front of television completes the effacement. They smother whatever remains.
No matter. Physicians can find meaning in their lives—in their work. We can busy ourselves with medicine, roentgenograms, laboratory tests, and operations. Perhaps the rest of the world lacks purpose but not ours. After all, Hippocrates gave