HOMOEOPATHIC PHILOSOPHY AND MODERN MEDICINE

Stuart Close

 

Delivered Tuesday evening, March 16, 1926, in Philadelphia, by invitation of and before the entire student body of Hahnemannian Medical College, organized as the Hahnemannian an Institute.

The term, Homoeopathic Philosophy, is a comparatively new one in our school, and quite unknown in general medicine. The thing signified, in its elements, is as old as homoeopathy itself, and I may add, as old as philosophy itself but the name has been used in this connection only since 1891. In that year it was adopted as the title of the leading bureau of the International Hahnemannian Association.

This was (and is) a body of therapeutic specialists who stood for the development and maintenance of the distinctive specialists who stood for the development and maintenance of the distinctive principles and methods of homoeopathy as it was given to the world by Hahnemann. Their purpose was to redeem homoeopathy from the many corruptions and perversions which had crept into its practice, which, I am sorry to say,still exist.

It has been the subject of criticism by some, from the conventional standpoint of the scientist, that homoeopathy, as a scientific system of therapeutic medication, should not only itself bear a distinctive name, but be so closely bound up with the personality of an individual, even though he were its founder. The average scientific man rather plumes himself upon the “impersonal character of science,” sometimes forgetting that, as Kipling says, “Things never yet created things”.

Back of the thing there stands always-the Man. Back of the Great Pyramid stands the Pharaoh who conceived it, and with him the architect who planned it and the toiling thousands of artisans who quarried and raised, tier on tier,the masonry which composes the greatest monument of antiquity. Back of St.Pauls, in London, stands Sir Christopher Wren and back of Christianity, which- St.Paul did so much to formulate and organize, stands that supreme personality of all the ages, The Man of Galilee, whose name it took.

We need have no compunctions, therefore, about recognizing the inseparable connection of the man. Hahnemann, with homoeopathy. True scientists always delight to honor the names of men of genius and inspiration, upon whose unselfish labors every science is based. I am proud, as I trust you are, to stand tonight within the walls of an institution of learning which, of so long a period, has borne the name of the illustrious founder of homoeopathy.

Homoeopathic Philosophy, of course, like any other branch of philosophy, deals with the general principles,. laws and theories that furnish the rational explanation of things that come within its scope. It is sometimes called the Science of Homoeopathics. It has its source and was first set forth in The Organon of Medicine, by Samuel Hahnemann, the originator and founder of the homoeopathic system of therapeutics.

Although it was first published in 1810, the Organon remains to this day the fundamental textbook and highest authority of homoeopathy. It is the “Bible of homoeopathy,” but like the Bible of theology it must be restudied and reinterpreted by each generation, in the light of advancing knowledge and experience. Some things it which were clear to the men of 1810 are obscure o the men of 1926, unless they are scholars who are familiar with the history and progress of philosophy and science in all their epochs and phases.

To others, and abstruse nature of some of its subjects, its involved sentences (characteristically German in their construction), its erudite citations and allusions, its unfamiliar nomenclature, its archaic illustrations and, on provocation, its dogmatic or controversial tone, constitute a barrier difficult for some to surmount.

Having said the worst that can be said about the Organon let me add that, largely by virtue of these very peculiarities, as well as the vast importance to humanity of the general subject with which it deals, it becomes a “human document” of surpassing interest and charm. For the greater part it may be read understandingly by any person of average intelligence, even a laymen. The more obscure parts are for the scholar,the expert and the critic.

The manifest earnestness and sincerity of its author, the profundity and vast extent of his learning, his deep convictions, his courage in attacking long-established errors, his sympathy with the sufferings of humanity, his respect for natural law and his logical application of its principles, with his profound reverence for the Supreme Being and Law Giver, all taken together, constitute an appeal of great power to every serious mind.

For your encouragement let me tell you that when my old family physician (who thought he detected in me at eighteen years of age the signs of a budding medico) put into my hands his copy of the Organon and advised me to read it, I did so with the keenest zest. Reading it as I would any other book I found it intensely interesting, although (and perhaps because) my previous knowledge of medicine had been derived principally from “Ayers Almanac” and “Dr. Chases Family Receipt Book, when I was a boy on the old farm in Wisconsin.

Although I had previously given only casual thought to the idea of entering the medical profession, this reading of the Organon decided me. Its logic convinced me. Its possibilities captivated me. Shortly afterward I began to study medicine seriously under the preceptorship of my good old “discoverer.” You may be sure that he did not fail to drill me thoroughly in the teachings of the Organon. The identical old book, bearing his autograph on the fly leaf, has been one of the choicest treasures of my medical library for almost fifty years.

The day of secrecy in medicine is past.

Time was when the typical physician wrapped himself in a mantle of mystery, exclusiveness and silence, looked pompous and emulated the own. In speech he was oracular, in manner, dictatorial. He rarely condescended to explain his actions to his patients. But times have changed. Physicians have become almost human-some of them. They now take their patients into their confidence. They talk, they explain,they instruct, they “think out loud.” They give reasons for what they say and do. They seek the intelligent co-operation of their patients and impress upon them the necessity of working together. In other words, they have developed a new philosophy and adopted a new policy. It is recognized now that the physician has something to teach and explain, and the patient something to learn and do in order to get well and keep well.

It is the physicians business to learn the causes and conditions of the patients illness,and to teach and guide him in health, as well as treat him for his disease. His mistakes and misconceptions must be point out. His wrong habits and methods of living must be corrected. The patient must be roused to a sense of his own responsibility for his condition. His case is a problem-an individual problem-to be studied and solved intelligently and rationally. It must be made clear that, for him, it is the most interesting problem in the world, and that the physicians business is to help him solve it. The patient must do his part. The physician cannot do it all, and should not if he could. There must be co-operation between the physician and his patient,between the profession and the public, and this applies to the treatment as well as the prevention of disease.

Now, several things are involved in this new attitude of the physician toward the public, some of which apply to the patient and some to the physicians himself. the first and most important thing is that the physician shall have full knowledge of what is true and reliable in medicine,and especially in therapeutics, in order that he may have something worthy of explanation. In one word, he should have a true philosophy. for there are philosophies that are not true-“Science falsely so- called,” as St.Paul expressed it. Medicine is full of it.

The general aim or purpose of the physician, of course, is to create and develop an intelligent and loyal following in the field which he has chosen for his life work. The field of Health, in which he is the natural leader, is not only a large, but a very important one; for success in any department of the worlds activities depends very largely-one might say primarily- upon good health. He should, know, therefore, the true basis of health, and how to restore it when lost. In other worse, he should be a master of the science and art of therapeutics. It follows, without argument, that he should be a homoeopathician, since in homoeopathy we have a consistent body of truth.

“Mens sana in corpore sano,” a sound mind in a sound body, is generally recognized as the prime requisite for success in any vocation. But to attain that ideal condition,. or even a fair approximation to it is sometimes, for the average man, lay or professional, a very difficult task; for, unfortunately, we all come into this world hampered more or less by inherited organic weaknesses, defects and disproportions.

From these arise certain tendencies and predispositions to disease and disability. These must all be found, recognized, combated and overcome, as far as possible, if we are to make the best use of our powers and play our legitimate part in life. To do this most successfully we must now have recourse to the new science of Human Morphology as developed by the late Professor DiGiovanni of the University of Padua, Italy, which is soon to be introduced into the United States.

To heredity must be added the influence of unfavorable environment upon our lives. For a long period during the development of modern biological science under the theory of evolution, undue emphasis was placed upon environment as the predominating influence in the development of the individual and the race. Even before the theory of evolution became so popular, back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many philosophers taught that man was a product of environment and education,and that all men were born equal. If they later became unequal they were taught that it was because of unfavorable environment and unequal opportunities.

“The Declaration of Independence,” says Professor Edwin Grant Conklin, biologist of Princeton University, “merely reflected the spirit of the age in which it was written, when it held this truth to be self evident, that all men are created equal. The equality of man has always been one of the foundation stones of democracy. Upon this were founded systems of theology, education and government which hold field today”.

We may add that medicine is still largely dominated by that idea, as I shall presently show.

“It is still popularly supposed,” says Professor Conklin, “that complexion is dependent upon intensity of light, and stature upon the quantity and quality of food; that sex is determined by food or temperature, mentality by education, and that in general individual peculiarities are due to environmental differences”.

Yet none of these suppositions is true, except in a minor, almost negligible degree. Nor is it true that the diseases of men are solely the product of environment, or that they can be thrown into diagnostic and pathological groups and treated successfully as entities, as if all individuals groups and treated successfully as entities as if all individuals were equal.

“Now one now seriously thinks that life can be experimentally produced from non-living matter,” continues Professor Conklin, “nor that we can make species by the process of experimental evolution.

Inherited variations do appear, incipient species arise, but there is very little evidence to show that they appear in response to environmental changes, and at present we have no means of controlling such variations. Belief in the omnipotence of environment for the evolution of the species has steadily waned in of evolution, such as the mutation theory and orthogenesis has increased. The old view that men are chiefly the product of environment and training is completely reversed by recent studies of heredity. The modifications which may be produced by environment and education are small and temporarily as compared with those which are determined by heredity”.

Nevertheless we must recognize that if environment plays only a small part in the evolution of the species, it plays a large part in the modification of the developing and even the developed individual. The organic constitution which man inherits from his ancestors is profoundly modified by the influences and agencies which are part and parcel of his environment. Its character and development are modified for better or worse by his education, his habits, his modes of life and thought, his occupation, his diet, by drugs, by medical treatment, good or bad, and by many other things. By these agencies, consciously or unconsciously to himself, he is moulded and impressed, according to their nature, into the image and likeness of the spirit of the age and community in which he lives.

The form of his body and character of its functions, the relative degree of development of his vital organs and the character of their functional relation to each other, singly or as systems-in one word, his morphology-are all subject to the modifications of his environment, external and internal, for good or evil. Even his mentality and psychical entity, through education and suggestion, take on largely the characteristics of those with whom he is mentality and psychical entity,. through education and suggestion, take on largely the characteristics of those with whom he is most intimately associated. His life is a continuous process of reaction and adjustment to the forces around and within him, a constant struggle between the forces of heredity and environment.

With so may adverse influences; with so much ignorance and disregard of the laws of life and health; with so much that is vicious and vile; with so much sin and crime and immorality, so much selfishness, callousness and greed, so much atheism and infidelity all around him, it is no wonder that mans normal development is hampered and that he so often becomes a victim of degeneration and disease.

But there is another side to the shield. For every one of these adverse influences there is an opposing force which works for good. The struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness, between ignorance and intelligence, in man and in nature, is eternal. Its story is the history of the universe, of evolution and involution in all their endless cycles of beginnings and endings.

Into the dark regions of this great field, to which I have referred, come the forces of religion and science, of philanthrophy and social service, of education and reform, with all their many agencies and organizations for enlightenment, uplift and progress. Into this field comes homoeopathy with a sane, pure, rational philosophy, with a definite, scientific, therapeutic method and a highly developed practical technique, all systematized and based upon a universal principle or law of nature.

Its materia medica comprises, or may be made to comprise, every substance in the three realms of nature, mineral, vegetable and animal, known to have a medicinal action upon the living organism. By its pharmaceutical processes it is able to prepare all these substances, from the venom of the deadliest serpent to the delicate juices of the fairest flower, in such a way that they become true curative agents when called for, perfectly assimilable and absolutely harmless. In its posology and mode of administration of medicine it utilizes only the integrity of any organ or tissue of the body. Infants, adults and animals alike welcome its administration and respond to its healing touch with alacrity.

Now, much that is true of the general science of biology and especially of the changing emphasis between heredity and environment is equally true of medicine, which is one of the biological sciences. Orthodox medicine, to a large extent, still regards all men as having been born equal” and treats them accordingly, although it is changing-slowly. Homoeopathy, on the contrary. has never regarded or treated men as being “equal”. In philosophy and practice it is strictly an individualizing science, giving to each man his just due. For diagnostic and therapeutic purposes orthodox medicine still throws patients into classes, or groups, as if they represented pathological entities, and treats all the individuals composing the group alike.

Homoeopathy teaches that the totality of the symptoms which perceptibly represent the disease process in the individual patient is the only rational basis of treatment.

Symptoms of disease very as much in individuals themselves do in their personalities. As a matter of fact the same disease indifferent patient may present many different clinical appearances. The same cause, be it a germ, a poison, or a traumatism, gives rise to different effects in different individuals, and the same remedy acts differently in different cases. Experiment and observation show that individuals react according to the peculiarities of their constitution, according to the laws of their own being, each one for himself in his own way. This is not saying that individuals do not resemble each other morphologically in certain broad characteristics common to all cases of similar general character; but merely that they all have differences.

Homoeopathic philosophy teaches that in all our dealings with the sick, medically,. we can expect to succeed in curing them only in proportion as we recognize and adapt our measures to those individual differences-a mode of practice which is in perfect harmony with the biological principle which says that “variety is the law of being.” Hence, the commonly quoted but inadequately interpreted axiom which says that “not disease, but individual patients must be treated”-an axiom which, unfortunately, is “more honored in the breach than in the observance.” Hence, also, the necessity for a general principle of therapeutic action, capable of being adapted to the needs of every individual in a rational and scientific manner, which is supplied only by homoeopathy. Without this we are lost in the fog of conflicting opinions.

Bacteriology, with its many ramifications, is a very important subject. It sustains an important relation to homoeopathy, but one that requires careful definition. You may not know that Hahnemann may justly be regarded as the father of medical bacteriology. He was the first to advance the theory that cholera, one of the great, typical germ diseases,is due to the presence of innumerable minute living organism, by which it is propagated and conveyed. This theory he vigorously defended while he urged the adoption of the sanitary measures which it involved.

Later, in his great work on Chronic Diseases, he expanded the theory to include all epidemic, infectious and contagious diseases, acute as well as chronic. He recognized the parasitic or bacterial origin of leprosy and gonorrhoea, and most remarkable of all,he identified tuberculosis, in all its manifold forms and extensions, as of bacillary origin, and all this more than a half a century before the reputed discoveries of Koch, Pasteur and Noeggerath.

Of course Hahnemanns teachings were not set forth in the language and nomenclature of modern bacteriology, for that science had not yet been born but the basic ideas were all there, stated or implied. His “Psora Theory,” for example, covers the entire field of what we now call tuberculosis, and a good deal besides,and in the spirit, if note the terminology of modern science.

I cannot enlarge upon this interesting topic. I simply call attention to it.

I must also give you a word of warning in this connection from the standpoint of homoeopathic therapeutics.

The great majority of medical men today are so completely obsessed by the spirit of bacteriology that they have lost sight of the individual altogether. They are attempting to force the therapeutic application of certain unproved bacteriological theories by methods which are neither legitimate nor scientific. Bacteriology can never give a complete explanation of disease, nor can it be made the basis of a complete or efficient system of therapeutics, because so many other factors besides micro- organisms enter into the production of disease.

Bacteria are a factor in disease, and an important one, but their action is always conditioned upon the existence of many other factors, all of which must be taken into consideration in treatment. Not to recognize these facts is to open the say to grave abuses and misapplications of that which is true in bacteriology.

The current mode of preparing the various serums, vaccines and antitoxins, for example, and the administering of them through the hypodermic needle, in the prevention and treatment of disease, is productive of incalculable injury; while the effect upon the profession, from the scientific standpoint, is deplorable, leading as it does, no narrowness of mind arrogance, bigotry and intolerance. In so far as they are really prophylactic or curative, these substances may all the prepared and used efficaciously by the same simple and harmless methods used for other homoeopathic medicines.

It seems that clinical observation is becoming a lost art. Under the sway of bacteriology modern physicians and surgeons are no longer interested in the clinical history and symptomatology of many of the cases with which they deal. Consequently, orthodox medicine today frequently finds itself therapeutically in a “blind alley”-a narrow passage with no outlet-from which it tries in vain to escape by digging its way through the thick walls with scalpels and hypodermic needles.

Symptoms,which represent the functional changes in the perverted vital processes which we call disease, have little or no meaning for the bacteriologist, except as vague warning signals that something is wrong. When they are brought to his attention, instead of studying the patient, his clinical history, heredity and environment, he merely collects a “specimen” or takes a “culture” and hastens to the laboratory, there to try to identify the micro organism supposed to be the specific cause of the disease.

Having found it, as he supposes, he prepares to administer a serum or a vaccine, vainly imagining that he can effect a cure that way. The patient may, and often does, recover but the dean of Corneal University Medical College is reported to have recently said substantially, in a public address, that “any case of disease which recovered under serum or vaccine treatment would have got well anyhow.” so I am not alone in my strictures upon that kind of treatment. I could cite many others to the same effect it time permitted. But I will only quote briefly from a recent lecture by Professor James Ewing of cornell, generally recognized as one of the greatest pathologists of the world.

Professor Ewing says:

“there are limitations to the significance of the purely. bacteriological knowledge of disease. The old morphologists. believed that bacteriology could never give a complete. explanation of disease-a view which receives increasing. support in modern times. Modern bacteriology is getting. away from the study of bacteria themselves and turning more. and more to the questions of predisposing and contributing causes of disease. In other words, it is reverting to the field of general pathology”. And again;

“The acute interest in immunology is not quite so intense as it was five years ago. when bacteriology takes refuge in almost invisible filterable viruses, it comes to a dead standstill, as in influenza and poliomyelitis”.

And still again:

“Much more can be accomplished by study of the clinical conditions under which disease develops!”.

Thus Professor Ewing, on this important subjects aligns himself substantially with those followers of Hahnemann who have never departed from his strict, inductive,individualizing method in therapeutics, based upon pure clinical observations and experience,and guided by the natural law of cure.

And now, in the time that remains to me, let me try to give a brief and somewhat cursory review of homoeopathic philosophy as it has been gradually developed since the time of Hahnemann.

Primarily the philosophy of homoeopathy, as originated by Hahnemann and developed by later thinkers, is based upon the recognition of Life as the fundamental energy, power, principle and substance of the universe, individualized in every living being. It is distinctively a vitalistic philosophy. It recognizes life in the abstract as energy, and in all its manifestations in the concrete as a force. It holds that, in the last analysis, all energy is living energy.

It recognizes life in organism as the primary and direct cause of all organic functioning. Life is the motive power here in the same sense that electricity is a motive power in mechanics. Functioning normally the organism is in the state of order, or health. Functioning abnormally as a result of some influence inimical to life the organism is in a state of disorder,or disease. Health and disease are not thing, or entities, but conditions or states of the organism in which life resides. Disease is merely a morbid or disorderly vital process, not a thing in itself, as orthodox medicine implies and as we are apt to think.

Homoeopathic philosophy teaches that the things that cause or cure disease do not directly and solely by virtue of their own inherent powers or properties, but in conjunction with, and by reason of, the existence of life-in-organism which alone has the power to react. Medicines act only because the living organism has the power to react to their impression. A medicine makes no impression on a dead body because there is no living principle in it to react. As Grauvogl put it: “Substances taken into the organism from without, remain passive the organism, while the organism toward them active”.

Observe, I am referring to organic vital, not inorganic chemical reactions. Inorganic chemical reactions in the external world are of an entirely different order. Life is a chemistry of its own,which man can only feebly initiative. Certain chemical actions and reactions are constantly going on in the living body, but they are conditioned and modified by the existence of the individualized life principle. These latter we recognize as physiological or pathogenic chemico-vital operations which take place only in the living body. The cannot be reproduced in their entirety in the laboratory. There is always something lacking-something which eludes the chemist-and that something is Life, which cannot be created by man.

Imprecisely the same way as in regard to life, the homoeopathic philosophy is based upon the recognition of Mind,in its subconscious and conscious aspects, as the intelligent power and principle of the universe, individualizing itself in every material concrete form.

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