Does Homoeopathy Fulfill conditions

Now, morbid phenomena are deviations from healthy phenomena. How can we recognize the deviations unless we are familiar with the standard?…

Does Homoeopathy Fulfill conditions of Sci of Theraps Returning now to our argument, we find that the field is open for a science of Therapeutics. In the light of what has been said we proceed to examine the claims of Homoeopathy to the honor of being that science.

In its structure as a science, Homoeopathy conforms to the model we have delineated. It consists of a law or formula which expresses the relation between two series of phenomena, those of a given case of disease on the one hand and those of a given drug-proving on the other. The elaboration of each of these series is the province of various subsidiary sciences, and they are analogous in their mode of elaboration. Each series, however, is entirely independent of the other. Each may be pursued independently, as a branch of Natural Science and under the heads of Pathology and Pathogenesy respectively, researches may be made in each without any view to a practical application in the cure of the sick. It is only when connected by the law of their relation (the formula of similarities) that they constitute the science of Therapeutics.

Their application, moreover, in obedience to this law is based upon no hypothesis respecting the essential nature of either variety of phenomena or of their modus operandi where brought into operation. This may surprise some who know how earnestly Hahnemann argued on these very points in his Organon. But these arguments were no essential part of his system. They were the result of an endeavor to commend his discovery to the prevalent way of thinking. They constitute the only controvertible part of his writings, and are the only positions of his which have not triumphantly withstood the assaults of his critics.

Coming now to apply to Homoeopathy, as tests, the conditions to which we have shown that every inductive science must conform, we find in the first place that it is capable of infinite progress in each of its elements, without such progress involving the destruction or denial of what has been previously constructed or received. The study of the phenomena (whether of disease or of drug-action) was limited at first to the observation of external manifestations and subjective sensations as these might present themselves to our senses unassisted by any of the aids by which modern science has sharpened them, or to our minds relations and dependences of symptoms for which we are indebted to modern discoveries in Chemistry and Pathology. But these advances in Pathology, great as they have been have not altered the relation which the phenomena of natural disease bear to those of drug-disease. There phenomena respectively, whether rudely apprehended, or clearly and fully understood in all their relations and inter-dependences, still bear the same relation to each other- expressed by the law Similia Similibus Curantur. And we can imagine no possible Similibus Curantur. And we can imagine no possible development of the sciences of Pathology and Pathogenesy which could alter this relation.

And then the law itself may be but a stepping-stone to a still wider generalization which shall one day embrace both it and something besides, and which shall make clear some things which we now see darkly. But should this occur, as the like has occurred in other Natural Sciences, there will be, there can be, no revolutionary action in it. It may be that the edifice, as we now occupy it, is still unfinished, it may be that other stories are one day to be added, but assuredly, as the tower is to the spire, as the buttress to the pinnacle, so will this generalization be to that which may be constructed upon it, a basis, an indispensable first step in the construction of the science.

The complete manner in which the second condition that of prevision-us fulfilled by Homoeopathy is a source of inexpressible benefit to the race. It follows, from the very terms of the science, that if the phenomena of a given case of disease be known, the law of relation will at once point to the appropriate remedy (if this be contained in the Materia Medica); and this indication may be relied upon with implicit confidence, even though no such case of disease ever heretofore been subjected to treatment.

Conversely, when the properties of a given drug been investigated and its toxic phenomena well ascertained, the physician is able to pronounced with certainty what form of disease it will cure, even though no such disease has ever been witnessed or treated by himself, or by anybody. An illustrious example of this prevision was afforded by Hahnemann. The terrible fatality of Asiatic Cholera, on its first invasion of Europe, is well known. In extenuation of their lack of success, physicians of the Old-School pleaded that the disease was new to them, they had had no opportunities to study it, and to ascertain by experiment the effects of remedies upon it. The plea was plausible, but fatal to the pretensions of their science. In fact, it was good for nothing. For surely the first thousand cases should have afforded means enough for learning the Pathology of the disease and how to cure it, if this were to be learned from Pathology. But hundreds of thousands perished, and yet the percentage of mortality remained the same.

While the disease was still on the confines of Europe, before it had invaded Germany, long before either he or any of his disciples had ever seen a case of it, “Hahnemann, guided by the unerring therapeutic rule he had discovered, at once fixed upon the remedies which should prove specific for it, and caused directions to be printed and distributed over the country by thousands; so that on its actual invasion the Homoeopathists and those who had received Hahnemann’s directions were fully prepared for its treatment and prophylaxis; and thus there is no doubt many lives were saved and many victims rescued from the pestilence. On all sides statements were published testifying to the immense comparative success that had attended the employment of the means recommended by Hahnemann before he had seen or treated a single case. This one fact speaks more for Homoeopathy, and the truth of the law of nature on which the system is founded, than almost any other I could offer, viz.: that Hahnemann, from merely reading a description of one of the most appallingly rapid and fatal diseases, could confidently and dogmatically say, such and such a medicine will do good in this stage of the disease, such and such other medicines in that; and that the united testimony of practical testimony to accuracy of Hahnemann’s conclusion.” (Dudgeon’s Lectures on Homoeopathy, p.37)

We may add that in the second Epidemic of Cholera in 1849, the old School, despite their experience in 1831, 34, had but little better success, while again the justice of Hahnemann’s’ conclusions and the claim of Homoeopathy to that prevision which characterizes a true science were vindicated by the splendid success of the Homoeopathic treatment.

John Stuart Mill, in the portion of his work in Logic from which we have already quoted, in speaking of the three methods of investigation, that of observation, that of experimentation, and that of deduction, after showing conclusively that the former two are inapplicable to medicine, speaks of the deductive method in terms which are intentionally of course, and for this very reason they are the more conclusive) description of the philosophy of Homoeopathy. “If, for instance, we try the philosophy of Homoeopathy. “If, for instance, we try the experiments with Mercury on a person in health, in order to ascertain the general laws of its action upon the human body, and then reason from these laws to determine how it will act upon persons affected with a particular disease, this may be a really effectual method, but this is deduction.”


The method of studying the two series of phenomena which, together with the law of relation, constitute the science of Therapeutics, follows from what has been said.

When first brought into the presence of a concrete case of disease, the business of the physician is to ascertain what branch of medical science he is called upon to exercise. Is the case on which requires hygienic management or therapeutics, or both, or is the patient beyond the reach of art? To answer these questions a diagnosis and prognosis must be made, and to make these, a knowledge of the remote and proximate cause and of the course and determination of diseases is required. In a word, a knowledge of Physiology and Pathology is indispensable on the very threshold of medical practice and before any question of Therapeutics has arisen.

When these preliminary questions have been settled and the case has been found to come within the domain of Therapeutics, its phenomena are to be studied in such a way that all deviations from a normal state may be perceived, as well those which are common to a number of similar cases, as more particularly those which seem to be peculiar to the individual case in hand, and which therefore serve to give it individuality and to distinguish it from all other and similar cases. The case is to be ten individualized as sharply as possible, and a complete picture of the morbid phenomena obtained in their natural groups and connections.

Now, morbid phenomena are deviations from healthy phenomena. How can we recognize the deviations unless we are familiar with the standard? How can we appreciate morbid phenomena save through a knowledge of Physiology, which is the science of healthy phenomena?

In like manner we are able to get a complete picture of the morbid symptoms only by an orderly methodical investigation; and such an investigation is possible to those alone who are familiar with the relations and sequences of morbid phenomena, that is to say, with Pathology. A simple reference to practical experience will prove this. A patient complains of pain in her left hypochondrium, distress and faintness in the epigastrium, vertigo and various symptoms of dyspepsia, but never thinks of mentioning-perhaps is unconscious of- certain evidences of uterine disease to which the attention of the physician is instantly directed through his knowledge of the connection and sequence of symptoms. So of the connection of certain forms of vomiting with disease of the brain or of the kidneys, etc., etc.

Clearly, then, Physiology and Pathology are quite indispensable to the physician, and they speak with little thought who affirm that these sciences are of no value to the Homoeopathist and are disregarded by him. They are the sciences respectively of healthy and morbid phenomena. He cannot take the first step in the study of disease or of Materia Medica save by their aid. But he restricts them to their legitimate function. Pathology is for him not a guide in Therapeutics, but an instrument which he uses in studying those phenomena which are to be respectively the subject and the agents of his therapeutics operations.

Having, by the aid of Pathology, arrived at a complete and comprehensive knowledge of the morbid phenomena, he passes on beyond the confines of that science to a higher and more complex science, whose domain is the relation of the phenomena of which he has thus acquired a knowledge, with other phenomena. Through Pathology he learns to know disease, but it is through Therapeutics alone that he can cure it. And it is quite time that it were well understood not only by the profession but also by the public, that to know the nature and course of a disease is not of necessity to know how to cure it. It may be a necessary preliminary step-but it is nothing more. Nor is this true of medicine alone. My carriage breaks down; I well known where it has broken and why and how; yet this knowledge does not involve the knowledge how to forge and weld the iron that has broken and so the mend it. For that I require knowledge of another sort. The nature of Pneumonia, of Cholera, or Rheumatism is as well known as those of any disease can be; “their Pathology,” as doctors say, “is well understood,” yet this gives no clue to their therapeutics treatment, it is no guide to the special stimulus which must be brought to bear on the diseased organs to lead them back to healthy action. This stimulus must be discovered by quite another method; its discovery is the object of a distinct process.

Thus Pathology, restricted to its proper sphere, is an indispensable auxiliary to the study of the subject to Therapeutics. Its may be further subservient in enabling the physician to group the symptoms of a case in such a way as more readily to marshal and retain them in memory. Nor is generalization of this kind at all repugnant to the letter or spirit of Hahnemann’s method or of homoeopathic science.

The generalization to which Hahnemann objects was to that of disease in general upon nosological hypotheses made on theoretical grounds, and then applied a priori to individual cases. That to which we refer is a generalization made specially in each case, consisting of grouping of connected symptoms under one general term and extending only to such pathological states as are well defined and constant, such, for example, as Anaemia, Plethora, the proportion between the affections of different parts of the nervous systems, etc., under which we may group a number of generic symptoms to the great relief of our memory, while at the same time the individual or characteristic symptoms are not only not obscured by the process but are even brought more sharply into view, as will be evident when we consider this matter more at length under the head of the Study of the Materia Medica.

Carroll Dunham
Dr. Carroll Dunham M.D. (1828-1877)
Dr. Dunham graduated from Columbia University with Honours in 1847. In 1850 he received M.D. degree at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York. While in Dublin, he received a dissecting wound that nearly killed him, but with the aid of homoeopathy he cured himself with Lachesis. He visited various homoeopathic hospitals in Europe and then went to Munster where he stayed with Dr. Boenninghausen and studied the methods of that great master. His works include 'Lectures on Materia Medica' and 'Homoeopathy - Science of Therapeutics'.