Hahnemann’s original name for homoeopathy was the doctrine of specifies-He always considered his remedies specifies-Difference betwixt homoeopathic and old-school specifies-Difference betwixt homoeopathic specifickers and purists- Names proposed for homoeopathy-Is homoeopathy the doctrine of specifies? – Sydenham on specifies-Bacon-Kopp- Stieglitz-Hufeland-Stapf-Arnold-Kurtz- Roth-Schron-Goullon-Wolf-Rapou-Dufresne-Watzke-Black-Homoeopathy is specific medicine-Explanations of the curative process- Hahnemann’s idea that the stronger disease over come the weaker- His first attempt at an explanation of what takes place-Fallacies of this explanation-Medicines act conditionally, not absolutely- Instances of insensibility to medicinal action-Medicinal action not stronger than disease-Cures effected by weaker, not by stronger irritations-Examples from Hahnemann-Irrelevancy of Hahnemann’s illustrations-His second attempt at an explanation of the curative process-Extravagance of this attempt-Refutation of it-Hahnemann conscious of the weakness of his theory-Rau’s polar theory-Attomyr’s botanic theory-Eschenmeyer’s latitudinarianism- Jahn’s increased reaction theory-Schron reaction theory- Hufeland’s similar theory-Theorie of the worshippers of the vis medicatrix nature-Dr. Sangrado.
In my last lecture I attempted to show you that the homoeopathic therapeutic law discovered by Hahnemann, in other words, the maxim that in order to cure diseases in the best possible manner we must select agents that possess an inherent power to excite in the healthy economy morbid states similar to those produced by the diseases we have to cure, was the logical deduction from the most generally received and satisfactory pathological hypothesis of modern times, and it is my intention in this and the next lecture to consider the chief explanations that have been offered of the mode of action of the curative medicinal agent when opposed to the disease in the organism. I shall commence by stating Hahnemann’s views, and follow with an account of the most plausible or popular explanations that have been given by his disciples.
But before entering upon this subject, I may advert to the name originally bestowed by Hahnemann on his system, viz., the doctrine of specifics, and inquire what he meant by that term.
We find that from 1796 to 1808 he employed almost exclusively the word specific to designate his system, and after the latter date meet with the term homoeopathic, but often in combination with specific, as specific-homoeopathic, or homoeopathic- specific.
The term specific, as applied by him to disease, has not the broad signification given to it by the older writers. Thus he says, in the Essay on a New Principle, etc., published in 1796, “I do not believe there can be a thoroughly specific remedy for any disease of such and such a name, laden with all the ramifications, concomitant affections and variations, which in pathological works are so often inconsiderately detailed as essential to its character, and as invariably pertaining to it.”
Thus he rejects the term as applied by the older writers to such diseases or names of disease a scrofula, gout, syphilis, ague, etc., for which names, as they include manifold varieties of disease, he does not admit there are absolute specifies. On the contrary, he states his belief that there are as many specifies as there are different states of individual diseases i.e., that there are peculiar specifies for the pure disease, and others for its varieties, and for other abnormal states of the system. (Lesser Writings, p. 306). Even in the last edition of the Organon (Aphorism 147) he talks of the homoeopathic remedy being the specific for the cure of disease.
Still, notwithstanding what Hahnemann had written in 1796, he does not seem to have been altogether guided by his own rules in the treatment of certain continued and remittent fevers and other typical maladies in 1789, (*See a paper published in they year in the Lesser Writings, p.382, et seq.) when he seems to have groped about, not without much fumbling and stumbling, until he discovered the proper specific remedies for these disease, very much after fashion of the specific-hunters of the old school, to which he still virtually belonged. Although I cannot be certain of the fact, yet it seems to me highly probable that it was not till after this period (1798)–consequently more than eight after his notable experiments with bark-that he commenced methodically to prove medicines in order to ascertain their curative powers; up to this period I should say his knowledge of medicines was entirely derived from the records of poisoning in allopathic literature, and a few desultory and unmethodical experiments on himself and friends.