TRUTH is not narrow and restricted; it is broad and, in its own sphere, universal. It manifests itself in degrees, from a most superficial presentation to the most profound comprehension. One thing, however, is requisite; its essential qualities must obtain, or it proportionately defective or even destroyed.
So with the law of Homoeopathy. In its sphere it is universal in its acceptance it appears in all shades, from the crudest practice to the most skilful efforts of a Hahnemann. Still, there is a sina qua non, which is that there shall, somewhere, be a similarity between disease and drug.
Gradations in this law are not only such as may be expressed by the relative degree of fullness of acceptance gradations comparable with the continuous fading of light from the brilliant centre to the boundary between light and darkness. Gradations in the law are also such as are expressed discretely, like the rounds of a ladder that represent distinct, progressive steps.
Two or three of these latter degrees are so clearly defined that I propose considering them for a few moments in their bearing up on my theme.
Physicians, who depended solely or chiefly upon so-called pathological indications in selecting a drug, are certainly within the province of Homoeopathy, because, they are in a way, applying its law. They are seeking for fixed and definite similarities between drug and disease. They are mounted on one round of the ladder of true medicine.
Physicians who depend solely or chiefly upon so-called nutritive remedies are, doubtless, within the pale of Homoeopathy, for they are after a fashion applying its law. They seek the similar from among drugs that in normal quantities act physiologically and in abnormal amount cause disease similar, in some features, to their known pathogenetic effects. They, too, are mounted on a round of the same ladder.
Physicians who depended solely or chiefly upon the Organon in prescribing are unquestionably within the domain of Homoeopathy, for their aim is to discover what may be aptly termed the similimum. They are making the nicest possible application of the law of similars. They, necessarily, are mounted on a round of the ladder of the genuine medicine.
But what are the essential difference in these three gradations that mark them as discrete? And which of them is the highest round, nearest to the fountain of truth? Let us see. All three classes claim that they take the “totality of the symptoms” from which the desired remedy is to be deduced. But they differ severally in the method of deduction. One picks out as characteristic the pathological changes; another, nutritive changes; the third, “the more prominent, uncommon, and peculiar features of the case.”
The first two rely mainly upon objective changes, the third upon subjective as well as objective. These essential distinctions characterize the three classes respectively when they for one reason or another, step from their own round up or down on to another. If the pathologist gives any weight to a mental symptom, or to a drug- effect he calls contingent, it is always held in subordination to the pathological lesions, it is always with the reservation that the latter must be subservient to what he terms characteristics. And this brings me to my second question: which of these is on the highest round?
Electively I decide for the Hahnemannian, and designate the round upon which he stands as that which gives the broadest and loftiest view of medicine ever yet obtained by mortal discover. His position is the only logical one, for he holds in the mental grasp all that is below him, and, moreover, knows just how to value every step below him, and so to determine their relation with the higher and the highest.
He heralds with delight the discovery that Arsenic can cause Endocarditis; Bryonia, Pleurisy; Mercurius Corrosivus, Bright’s Disease; and Kalmia, Albuminuria. if he cannot possibly do any better, he is at liberty to descend from his height and employ one or the other of these drugs accordingly. But usually his command of other and more interior effects of drugs leads him to proceed more intelligently and to act more comprehensively.
“I see”, he says “certain subjective and less ultimated objective symptoms that call more emphatically for another drug for Pulsatilla”
“But”, comes up the objection from the round below, “Pulsatilla has not the pathological symptoms”.
“True, but it has the important symptoms, of the case, which I recognize as not mere reflex effects of the localized disease, but which rather bear a causative relation; and, besides, they are manifest in planes of molecular action, which necessarily hold to the coarser parts the relation; which necessarily hold to the coarser parts the relation of cause to effect, and drug applied to the local symptoms only will have but a partial and palliative effect”.