UC Berkeley News


Letters to the Editor

18 January 2006

I read "Sleuthing out Bay Area mystery novels "(Jan. 12, 2006), highlighting the online bibliography devised by Library cataloger Randal Brandt, with great interest. Since the article mentions Philip K. Dick (a former Berkeley student, although a dropout), I would like to bring to your attention my own online Philip K. Dick bibliography, built over the past six years. The Philip K. Dick Bookshelf (pkdickbooks.com) features a picture of every single edition of each of his books - more than 1,200 pictures in total of books by and about Dick. It is by far the most complete bibliography of P. K. Dick and a reference for collectors.

Henri Wintz
Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology

Randal Brandt employs what he says to be the Hippocratic oath ("First, do no harm") in describing the obligations facing "rare-book and special-collections librarians." But he's got it wrong: "First, do no harm" is not in the oath. It's from "Epidemics," a different essay by Hippocrates. I'm sure he could find a copy of the oath somewhere in the UC Berkeley libraries and look it up. Knowledge is power.

Chris Maynard
Bronx, N.Y.

We could find no unequivocal source confirming the literal origin of this famous phrase in "Epidemics," as Maynard asserts, although translations of the original Greek text yield variants of its meaning, e.g., "The physician must . have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm." (Alternatively: ".make a habit of two things - to help, or at least to do no harm.") To say that the phrase, therefore, is "from Epidemics" appears only marginally more accurate than to assert its appearance in the Hippocratic Oath.