Wilson T P
Mankind can not live without Art. They seldom live without Philosophy. Art is a necessity growing out of the imperative needs of our life. Philosophy is an intellectual function which chiefly affords us pleasure. Our need of pleasure is always pressing, but it may be at any time foregone. Not until a definite evolution of the intellectual has been reached, do we find the need of Philosophy existing. The early man was content with sensual enjoyment.
But with a larger brain and expanded mind, he sought for intellectual pleasures. Philosophy always ultimately transcends the senses. But all true philosophy takes its origin in Art. Art is the root, body and branches; philosophy is the flower with its subtle aroma. In modern intellectual life you can not separate Philosophy from Art.
I wish here distinctly to state that, while there is much so-called philosophy that takes no cognizance of Art, it is always practically abortive. Cut loose from the universe, or if you please, from the sensible universe, philosophy is insane or unsound. It is unbridled imagination. It does not help the work side of human life. men might well rest satisfied with facts, but they will not Our senses fill us to the brim, and we might be there with content. Most of mankind are, because they lack intellectual development.
We may properly divide all philosophy into practical and transcendental. We can omit the latter simply because it is not practical. As men can not put oratorios into everyday life, so we can not find in transcendental philosophy anything answering to our necessities.
Whatever the members of this association may be-scholars, jurists, scientists, poets or musicians-they are, first and foremost, physicians. Not merely masters of physic, but masters of Physics. Every true physician is a Physicist. if his knowledge did not come through the schools, it must have come through books or personal experience. no man knows how much he knows;neither is he always capable of properly classifying his knowledge.
The cook in the kitchen is always sure that she knows nothing of chemistry, yet she is one of our most useful, successful and needful practical chemists of the age. The farmer will tell you that he knows nothing of biology, yet all his life long he has been practically engaged applying the laws of biology to every day life.
Given a true physician, he is always the possessor of practical philosophy. However unconsciously it may exist in him, it is always there. He looks beyond the sensible signs of disease and the known qualities of drugs. Naturally he philosophizes. If he is a transcendentalist, he constructs a theory unrelated to what is revealed to him through his senses.
He wraps this theory around his medicines and his patients, much as a tender babe is wrapped about with its swaddling clothes. The swaddling clothes have no organic continuity with the body of the child. They serve to keep the infant warm. They are not nutritious, but they give pleasure. Philosophy that is transcendental, serves a like purpose; and we may justly say of it: De gustibus non est disputandum. The pleasure of it is not to be disputed; but that does not answer for meat and drink.
Let us look now at Practical Philosophy. The materialist never ventures beyond the limitations of the known. Where demonstration ends, there he is content to rest. All philosophy consists of that which is projected beyond the known into the unknown. Between these, the transcendental philosopher maintains no continuity. On the other hand, the practical philosopher, however far he may reach, never loses his foothold.
Let me illustrate: Across a deep, wide chasm I saw a bird fly; and it gave me much pleasure to watch his aerial movements. Following the law of analogy, I could construct a theory by which men could make flying machines and vie with the bird in crossing the chasm. To the practical mind, even if this were successful, it would amount to nothing in the way of transporting passengers and goods.
At the same time that I saw the bird, I also saw a cantilever bridge under construction across the same chasm. At a dizzy height, it stretched out its slender but strong arms, above where the bird was flying. It looked at first glance as though it might fall of its own weight. When, however, you saw how firmly its ends were fastened into the rocky banks, al fear of disaster was gone.
Now let us return to the point of starting: Meanwhile is the one only term which includes all that immediately pertains to our profession. it is variously called the Theory and Practice; the Science and Art of medicine. What we now term the Art and Philosophy of Medicine expresses the same thing. of the Art of medicine, all physicians know more or less. Of the Philosophy of Medicine only a minority have any very clearly defined views.
Anatomy, as generally taught, is the only department of medicine which absolutely shuts out theory. it is composed of facts, and of facts only. Physiology, Materia Medica, Chemistry and Pathology are constructed out of facts mixed with theories. In contrast with them. Anatomy is said to be dry, dull, uninteresting; and this because it lacks the pleasing element of theory. But theories have in them something more than the power of pleasing. Theories have been the stepping stones by which the world has risen in the path of progress.
Theories have helped us to pass from the known to the unknown; or, to state it better, have helped us to bring the unknown into the realm of the known. By them, also, we connect widely separated facts. and thus establish relationships not otherwise seen. I am, of course, speaking of practical, not of transcendental, theories. Inductive philosophy lies at the base and fills the superstructure of all true Medical Science.
The moment it is ignored or supplanted, the fabric is baseless. less than a century ago medical art was filled with the wildest, unsubstantial theories. Many of its representatives are to-day following out one and then another theory, only to abandon them and follow a third and a fourth theory, and so on, ad infinitum. Each of these takes its origin in what its adherents are pleased to call reason. But out of none of them, singly or collectively, have they yet been able to develop a law of therapeutics.
Inductive medicine is purely experimental. it proceeds carefully by demonstrations, from simple to complex conditions. it does not fly like a bird from drugs to patients. it builds a substantial bridge from the remedy to the disease, or more strictly, to the condition known as disease.
I shall now proceed to consider three facts connected with medicine, in which philosophy plays an important part.
1. Let us begin with Pathology, for this is the natural order of development. We have a patient affected by disease. Our senses show us much that is abnormal-ulcers, abscesses, tumors, inflammations; they are revealed to the trained eye. With the microscope we go deeper still; and tissues, cells and exudates, unfold more and more. Chemistry helps us still further on. Every conceivable agent is employed to find what the disease is, and we find our hands full of much, and yet the essential cause eludes our senses. Back of all these phenomena we know there is something.
We can not live and do good work, without any theory. it will perhaps help one’s intellectual cravings to construct in theory, but the chances are, that every theory is as likely to be as damaging as useful. Concerning the essential nature or the ulterior cause of disease, the ground for thousands of years has been fought over by giants and yet little gained.
If now we turn to Hahnemann’s Introduction (Organon) we find a bit of transcendental philosophy upon this point:.
He says that, “the essence of diseases” is “dynamic aberration, which our spiritual existence undergoes in its mode of feeling and acting-that is to say, immaterial changes in the state of health,” It is easy, to see, that in following him in his practical application of the law of Similia, one is not obliged to accept his theory of the origin and nature of disease. There is no doubt that, feeling to discriminate between the theoretical and the practical parts of the Organon, many have found insurmountable obstacles.
There is no doubt that Hahnemann was a transcendentalist. The gross materialism of his time was repulsive to his nature, and besides, science, yet in its swaddling clothes, was able to render him but little assistance.
It is very different to-day. We have deeper knowledge of material changes in the body. Now upon the lines of development, which science has brought to light in the domain of physics, it is possible to formulate a theory of disease (if we need one) which will safely subtend the known into the unknown.
Science deals with masses, molecules, tissues, cells, protoplasm and atoms, as so many verities. But their assumption involves much that is philosophical. Inductive Philosophy rests upon them as ultimates. They are coherent and logical concepts; and the true Philosophy of Pathology can not be substantially built upon any other foundation.
2. Let us pass to the second point: Materia Medica. it is not possible to adequately express the pain one may feel in looking at the vast pile of material out of which the modern doctor draws his supply of remedial agents. Outside of the homoeopathic school, there is to be found little else than chaos. Of the action of drugs about as little is known as in the pre- Hahnemannian age. A drug is cathartic, diuretic, alternative, sedative, and so on to the end of a brief chapter. The action of the drug is at one time physiological, at another chemical and more often inscrutable.
Generally medicines are given secundum artem, upon a purely eclectic principle. No philosophy of drug action is possible under such a state of affairs. So long as we use drugs in gross forms, that is in sensible states, we have no use for any philosophical ideas concerning them, for they do not transcend the senses.
To Hahnemann alone are we indebted for the mode, so long followed, of attenuating drugs. In the process of division, the microscope helps us on a little way in verifications. Chemistry goes somewhat further and makes sure that we are holding to the drug form. Far beyond these the spectroscope follows us, until we reach a division of substance not dreamed of in earlier ages. beyond these our senses trace with scientific exactness the process of subdivision toward what may be a limitless field of extension. Concerning the intimate nature of drugs, it was natural the earlier philosophers should indulge in un-, or, rather supersubstantial theories.
It was doubtless with measureless amazement that Hahnemann and his immediate followers found that attenuating a drug enhanced rather than decreased its action. First it was seen that, subject to a variety of conditions, drugs manifested distinctly (a) a toxicological, (b) a physiological, (c) a chemical, and (d) a therapeutical action. The well known method of proving drugs was established; and so in various ways we came to a knowledge of the nature of our Materia medica, But, beyond what we know, is a wide field, in which speculation has long been rife. We have no desire to combat all or any of these theories, however transcendental.
The science of physics, in its later developments, has rendered us most important service. I do not believe our school has done what it might in fortifying itself, by accepting the truths of physics and using them to replace the false speculations that exist in regard to the nature of drugs.
A brief summary must close this point of our discussion.
1. Drugs are residences of energy; each after its own kind.
2. Alternating a drug renders it (a) more readily assimilable; (b) more readily changeable from the State to the Dynamic condition and (c) enables it to give up its peculiar energy to other bodies under the well known law of Transference.
A theory of the nature of drugs, however fat it might carry us in the matter of attenuation, would still rest securely upon a substantial basis. It can be made thoroughly demonstrable.
The first point which i intend calling your attention to- Therapeutics-while it is foremost in importance, must, for want of time, be only briefly discussed.
Just how medicines act in the curing of disease is a question that has long been fruitful of controversy. The thing I would like to settle is this: Have we a substantial basis upon which to construct a practical philosophy of Therapeutics?.
Science is holding out to us that which is of great importance here. If we have learned more of the nature of disease and of the action of drugs, we are just so far qualified to answer this last question. In developing the law of Similia, Hahnemann and his immediate followers considered that they had found a law of cure. I think many still hold to that view. But the idea is not true. Similia is a law under which, in any given case, the correct remedy (drug) is selected. It is the only safe guide in selecting the indicated drug. In no respect does it touch the question as to the immediate action of the medicinal force upon the disease force.
Hahnemann’s views upon this point are well known, but I do not think they are well understood. Let us quote:.
Aphorism24. (Organon.) “There remains accordingly no other method of supplying medicines profitably in diseases than the homoeopathic, by means of which we select from all others that medicine (in order to direct it against the entire symptoms of the individual morbid case) whose manner of acting upon persons in health is known, and which has the powers of producing an artificial malady the nearest in resemblance to the natural disease before our eyes”.
You will observe that the end of the law is the selection of the remedy. Comparing symptoms with provings, we determine the similimum. Of course Hahnemann did not fall to speculate upon the question: How do medicines act in curing? And not a few of his followers have deemed it obligatory to follow his methods, and his opinions as well. How unwise such a course is we may see by the following:.
28. (Organon.) “As this therapeutic law of nature clearly manifests itself in every accurate experiment and research, it becomes an established fact, however unsatisfactory may be the scientific theory of the manner in which it takes place. I attach no value whatever to any explanation that could be given on this head, yet the following view of the subject appears to me to be the most reasonable, because it is founded upon experimental premises.
Had Hahnemann lived in these days he would have found his facts as we have found them, more and more confirmed; but his philosophy would doubtless have undergone great change.
We can hardly agree that no value is to be attached to these speculations in the domain of therapeutics, else would we not have a written this article. Philosophy of whatever kind, has its value, but in medicine we must avoid the transcendental and keep in coherent relationship with science.
There is about that, which we call disease, nothing but what is common to chemistry, physiology and physics in general. Light, heat and electricity are phenomena due to discharges of energy along certain lines. Pathology falls into the same category. No force can be created or destroyed. Disease is subject to the same law. We can not make it or annihilate it.
The forces of nature appear and disappear under the law of Correlation. Diseases appear disappear by virtue of that same law. That which promotes life to-day, causes death to-morrow. Diseases not only change from one form to another, but they change into other forms of energy not pathological.
To cure a disease is not to destroy it, but to correlate it into some other state not inimical to health.
Drugs represent certain states of force. When they are attenuated, they are manifestly altered in their condition of energy. Arsenicum crude and Arsenicum attenuated, while closely allied, are not the same. “For the sake of peace” We have consented to avid the question of “dilution.”
We have done so at the expense of truth. if there were nothing in it, there would be no contention over it. it does greatly matter in what form or potency a certain well indicated drug is given. To fall back from this point to avid collision, is to lose important vantage ground. it is not a whim, but a law in Physics that demands attention to attenuations in using drugs.
We have very much to do in building medical science upon an indestructible basis. The study of disease as only the homoeopath studies it; the proving of drugs as only the homoeopath proves them; the use of these drugs as only the homoeopath uses them; all in marked distinction to the methods of the allopathic school, are capable of being placed upon a practical philosophical foundation.
We can retreat from them only when science proves them false. Philosophy and art (experience) are abundantly competent to substantiate our position. Throw away all transcendentalism and stand on the practical, the substantial, the demonstrable, and we have an inductive science against which “the gates of Hell” can not prevail.
Dr. Rushmore: I should like to ask some of our German scholars whether the word “spirit-like” or “spiritual” best gives the sense of the German word used by Hahnemann? Perhaps their explanation would rescue him from the charge of transcendental philosophy ascribed to him by Dr. Wilson in his paper.
Dr. Wesselhoeft: I think it should be spirit-like, and not spiritual. This word has been used in several translations of the Organon. We should not understand it as pertaining to anything in the line of mysticism. Spirit-like and spiritual are certainly different, yet the difference is very difficult to express. I think that spirit-like refers to the refined and etherial nature of potentized matter; the particles of matter are in a spirit- like form; while the word spiritual excludes altogether the idea of matter.
Dr. Hawley: I should like to ask Dr. Butler how he escapes the charge of mysticism by simply giving new names to old things? Is not conservation of energy equally as mystical as spirit-like force? The difference is only one of terms, as it appears to me.
Dr. Butler. Dr. Wilson not being here, f course I do not know how he would answer this question. We must remember that Hahnemann lived some time ago, and a great many changes have taken place since he died. Indeed, it is astonishing to note how many and various terms and phrases there are in medicine to express the same thing. What Hahnemann meant by spirit-like force I do not know, but I suppose that it corresponds very nearly to what is to-day known as energy.
Spirit-like force was to him spirit-like in that it had nothing material in it. Now-a-days we have abolished that word and use the phrase, energy, instead. What he called force we call energy. I think that perhaps the difference we have in these abstruse subjects are rather in the expression of the ideas than in the ideas themselves.
Dr. Hawley: We should be instructed if we had a list of the different words which in times past have been used to express the same ideas. We have done away with the word force, and we shall have to do away with the word spirit. I care not whether you call it force, spirit or conservation of energy, but I certain that our art of healing is one of the most substantial things we know anything at all about.
We take healing power out of Nux vomica, and find it still in the sugar or in the alcohol used to develop it. The curative force of Nux vomica is in the sugar or alcohol in its potentized state. I have no doubt but that these forces are allied to electricity or magnetism; like force attracting and dissimilar forces repelling. The force residing in the potentized medicine perhaps attracts diseased forces similar to itself from the sick, and thus leaves the organism free to go on in its proper way.
Dr. Fincke: The remedy must be similar to the disease in order to cure. This also applies to magnetism, electricity and all curative forces. Spirit-like does not refer solely to material things; because it refers to that refined dynamic power residing in drugs, which, when applied according to the law of similars, restores the life-force of a sick person to its normal action. Still we must remember that it is the life-force which restores health, the remedy only enabling it to do so, probably by removing some misdirected action.
This life-force has nothing in common with pure matter, and the force in the remedy which acts upon it has but little in common with pure matter, hence the term spirit-like. It is something like spirit, because it is so refined, rarefied and etherealized, yet it is not spirit itself, and I do not think we need find any fault with either the word or the idea. The life-force of Hahnemann has been ruled out by modern philosophers, with whom there is no such thing; but instead they say, that the physical form acts by its own properties, matter moves by virtue of something inherent in it, and so they have come to the conclusion that there is no spirit. But Hahnemann’s philosophy rests upon a spiritual basis.
Dr. Kent: If we knew what spirit is and vital energy is, we would have no difficulty in understanding a good many things that are dark to us now. i have never seen a spirit, and I know it is hard to find words and synonyms with which to express ourselves. We come the nearest to knowing what it is like by knowing that it is not matter in its usual, material, palpable form, and by reflecting upon its extension in our potencies.
It is certainly difficult to distinguish between spirit-like and spiritual. Probably the latter word would have been good enough for us were it not supposed, in the popular mind, to have some connection with modern spiritualism, a thing to which we object.
If there were no such thing as modern spiritualism, I do not suppose any one would have raised objections to the word spiritual. Probably as a good thing as we can do on this subject is to endeavor to understand that we do not understand, and that will assist us in arriving at something of a conclusion.
Dr. Carleton: “Dilution” and “attenuation” are words I do not like to hear. I have some very deep rooted prejudices in my make up, and among the strongest are those against these words. “Potency” and “dynamization” are the proper words, and we did not hear them in the doctor’s paper. I am not much of a philosopher, but am a believer in Hahnemann every time.
Dr. Thomson: Some here seem to have trouble as to the existence of spirit, and one gentleman has said he has never seen a spirit. Why, as I look around me in this room, I see a great many spirits. it is the spirit within that wills, makes the infinite varieties of the human form. Matter in itself is dead and inert, and all force comes from the spiritual that vivifies it. The distinction between these two is the distinction between Allopathy and Homoeopathy; the first is dead and lifeless, while the latter is a vivifying force, and its object is no rid this poor body of flesh of its disease by a proper application of that force.
Dr. H. C. Allen: I was much pleased with Dr. Wesselhoeft’s distinction between spiritual and spirit-like. I think he hit the nail pretty nearly on the head. The terms certain and sure present a similar distinction. I am sure the sun will rise; I am certain it has risen.
Dr. Butler: With regard to the words, dilution and attenuation, neither Dr. Wilson nor I have any apology to make. They are pharmaceutical words, and perfectly proper in their place.