THE BODY-LIFE-MIND PUZZLE.
We fail to understand how mind and body and life interact in a human person – yet we see the phenomena before our eyes all the time. We fail to understand how the immaterial entity or force of life can influence a chemico – physical structure which obeys simply and solely the laws of energy – and yet we see the phenomena in a living organism all the time before our eyes.
The whole problem points to the solution of two questions, viz., (1) How is our body, which is a material things, connected with our thoughts and sensations, which are not material objects?; and (2) How, in turn, are our thoughts able to influence our bodily reactions?
Various attempts have been made since the last decade of the sixteenth century by western philosophers to resolve this puzzle, of which three general theories are the most outstanding viz.:
1. The theory of Psycho – physical materialism as propounded by Hobbes (1588-1679) which asserts that the physical changes in the brain are themselves the cause of consciousness.
According to Hobbes, matter and motion were the sole ultimate realities, the mental life is a by – products of chemical activity; and thought being entirely dependent on the brain could initiate nothing of itself. But this theory of materialism ends in a “reductio ad absurdum”. Science has revolutioned conception of matter and force. The old conception, therefore, of matter as an inert mass through which energy manifested itself, and of brain being structure which formed, as a by – products, the emanation of consciousness, is badly in need of modification.
2. The theory of idealism as propounded by Bishop Berkeley (1685 1753): According to him, our ideas and sensations not only of the primary but of the secondary qualities of matter cannot be copies of anything objective, but are our own mental experience; our ideas and not material thing beyond them are the real objects of knowledge: and consciousness is the reality and matter the shadow. But it should be noted that is is a re – statement of the psycho – physical problem rather than a solution of it.
3. The theory of Psycho – physical Interaction as propounded by Descartes (1596-1650): According to him mind and body are two distinctly separated entities. The brain is the organ of mind and each interacts on the other; in active states mind acts on the brain, and in passive, the brain on the mind.
Although this explanation of the relationship between body and mind appeals to common sense, it causes great difficulties to the philosophers. How can body and mind, each belonging to an entirely different order of existence, act and react with each other?
Lebinitz tried to solve this riddle by postulating that mind and brain did not interact, but kept time like two perfectly synchronised clocks. He asserted that it was because they had been wound up and set going at exactly the same moment with the result that each tick in one synchronised with each tick in the other. Even Descartes were aware of the difficulty that he had created and had to fall back on the view that the perfect harmony which existed between mind and body was evidence, not of any causal relationship between the two, but of both having been created by God, and of having been set going together harmoniously turned. But to bring in God to solve the problem is not intellectual solution of the riddle.
Thus we find that all theories are imperfect and inconclusive. Similarly theories of vitalism and mechanism fail to offer any satisfactory explanation of the organism and its functionings.
Controversy between vitalistic and mechanistic theories:
1. While science denies reality to Life and Mind, the vitalists retort by erecting them into vital and mental forces with a substantiality of their own. Thus arises vitalism as a counter – hypothesis to that of materialism.
2. Vitalism is nothing but a pale copy of physical force. According to the vitalists a living body is conceived as a material system in which the physico – chemical forces are supplemented and, to a great extent, dominated by a new force, not of the same character as they, but still sufficiently like them to act on them and to be acted on by them.
3. The vitalist is right in so far as it considers physicochemical agencies, considerations and categories as insufficient to explain the phenomena of living bodies.
4. But it is wrong when it proceeds to assume the existence and inter – action with them of a new so – called vital force, which may or may not affect their quantitative relations, which may or may not quantitatively add to or subtract from them, but which somehow has the power to control or otherwise affect the manner in which they are working.
5. With many vitalism is more a standpoint than a theory, more an attitude of protest against the supposed adequacy and sufficiency of mechanistic or physico – chemical explanation of living bodies than a definite assumption of a new vital force. They realised that there was something more in the living organism than what could be accounted for by the action of purely physical and chemical forces. In this standpoint they were, no doubt, right and in this vague negative sense there is not only no harm but positive value in the vitalistic standpoint.
6. But with some of the more recent Biologist the vitalistic standpoint has crystallised into a definite hypothesis which assumes a specific Life – force.
7. But there are more than one difficulties in the assumption of Life as a substantive entity as are evident from difficulty in explaining the mutual action and reaction between Life and Matter; and inadequacy of the hitherto suggested explanations and hypothesis of Hobbes, Berkeley, Descartes, Lebinitz and Henry Bergson etc.
8. The Body – life problem is not a case of inter – action but one of per – action or intro – action.
9. Both the theories are one – sided as (a) the mechanistic view ignores the essentially holistic element in organic or psychic whole; (b) the vitalistic view misconceives the vital or psychic element in such wholes.
Where is the solution of the problem?
It seems inevitable that our experience must be right and our categories of thought must be wrong or inadequate and that the insoluble puzzles which arise must be due to a misreading of facts. It might be that we create the puzzle by separating mind and body as if they were distinct theatres of action. In a thinking person something is happening which, examined in one way, reveals itself as electro – chemical activity in a net – work of nerves and, examined in another way, appears as thought and feeling.
When all theories are found to be imperfect and inconclusive we have to rely on facts hitherto observed and discovered. In our next issue those facts will be discussed and attempts will be made to find a way out from this puzzle.
DR. HAHNEMANN AND HIS CONTRIBUTIONS.
(English version of the Hindi broadcast of Dr. K.G. Saxena, Hony. Physician to the President, on 10-4-55 from A.I.R, New Delhi)
Homoeopathy holds a special position among various systems of medicines in the world. It is now but practised in most of the countries of the universe but in certain places it holds a unique position. People are very fond of this medicine because of its great efficacy, although it is used in minute doses. Homoeopathic medicines are most palatable to children and they relish its pills because of sweetness and minuteness. The world is celebrating today the bicentennial birth – day of Dr. Hahnemann, the discoverer of this wonderful system of medicine.
Homoeopathy was discovered in the latter part of the 18th century. In Europe, there was chaos and confusion in every sphere of life. Allopathy was in its infant state and had not developed properly. The Art of medicine was in the hands of lay and untrained practitioners and there were no basic principles of medical therapy in those days. It was time when charlatans flourished.
The result was that thousands used to die without medical aid. Brutal methods were used for treating the insane and blood – letting, boiling, burning, beating etc., were in vogue in those days. Dr. Hahnemann was highly shocked by this pathetic condition of the people. His heart bled and he took a vow to release the suffering humanity from this menace. He mustered all his forces to this and the humanity is getting the fruits of his labours today.
Two hundred years ago Samuel Hahnemann was born in Germany on the 10th April 1755. Who would dream this very Hahnemann would be the discoverer of Homoeopathy and would be great benefactor of humanity. The genious and acute wisdom of Hahnemann could be observed from his childhood. He had become master of French, English, German, Latin, Greek, Arabic and Hebrew languages. He had a special aptitude for the Art of medicine. Inspite of his bad pecuniary conditions, Hahnemann got the diploma of Doctor of medicine from University of Leipsic. To keep up his body soul together, he used to translate books at night.
On account of his extraordinary ability and acute common sense, Hahnemann became one of the most distinguished physicians of Germany. In view of the chaotic condition of medicine in those days, Hahnemann determined to discover a therapy based on scientific principles. He was a great believer in the omnipotence of God. He was convinced that the creator of the universe must have ordained certain fundamental principles of therapy and they were only to be discovered.
In this pursuit after truth, he was greatly helped by the action of cinchona. Once he was translating a book where he read that cinchona – bark was used for eradicating malarial fever. He also read that if cinchona is given to a healthy person in large quantities, then he gets cold, fever and sweat etc. which are the symptoms of Malaria as well. Thus he got a clue to the principles that if a drug produces certain symptoms on a healthy human being, the same drug cures all those symptoms found in a patient.
He carried on his experiments on this principle for a number of years. He had to give up his practice and had to undergo many hardships and oppositions from all over the country. Yet he carried on his experiments against all odds, and ultimately declared the principle of Similia Similibus curantur to the world. He called this new system of therapy as Homoeopathy. This principle of Similia was not a new principle to the world. Ayurveda had already referred to this principle in the maxim poison kills poison.
The declaration of this new principle of cure raised a lot of hue and cry amongst the physicians of the world. They unanimously voiced and protested against Hahnemann and his new therapy. Yet they could no silence that Hahnemann, who had sacrificed his medical practice and all his earthly possession for the propagation of those principles. He had to pass through the greatest privations and visscitudes of life and had to migrate from one city to the other and had ultimately to settle in Paris. Here he got the sympathy of the Government and the elite of the town. He continued to practice Homoeopathy here and propagated it with all his vigour.
He wrote numerous articles and delivered numberless speeches in support of Homoeopathy. These writings and speeches had a great impression on the learned doctors of the day and many of them became votaries of his new doctrine. They also experimented on these new principles and when convinced of the truth they vouchsafed them to the world. After great deal of trails and tribulations this therapy got a foot – hold in the hearts of people of Europe and America.
Homoeopathy propounded many other new principles in the therapeutic world. Poly – pharmacy was in vogue in those days, but Hahnemann discarded this and announced the use of single remedy at a time. The second important principle is that the minimum quantity of the medicine gives the maximum benefit. The third principle which this new system propagated was that the power of medicine could be raised by potentisation.
The apothecaries also opposed the new therapy of Hahnemann. According to the law in force in those days, every doctor had to purchase medicines from registered apothecaries only. Dr. Hahnemann and his associates protested against his law. Many suits were filled against him but he carried on his march towards his goal and after many years of continuous fight achieved his mission.
Dr. Hahnemanns First book Organon helped greatly in propagating his principles of new therapy. After that he published his Materia Medica which contains the symptoms of a number of medicines, particularly those which he had experimented on himself and on his disciples. Last of all he published “The chronic Diseases” which created a great effect on his opponents also and they had to submit to the greatness of Homoeopathy.
By this therapy, not only ordinary cases of illness were undertaken but cases of chronic, infectious and epidemic diseases were also treated and cured. The miraculous cures in cholera epidemic created a furor in Europe and America. Homoeopathy has been highly successful in mental and nervous ailments. Homoeopathy also propounded a new principle that Vital Force keeps the human system in healthy equilibrium.
The slackness or failure of the vital force causes all mental and physical ailments and therefore mental symptoms play a vital role in keeping the health of the man. Thus Homoeopathy is the first system which considered the mental side of man first than the physical one. It has been proved that minute homoeopathic medicines play a wonderful part in the treatment of mental ailments e.g., Insanity, Hysteria etc.
Dr. Hahnemann continued to strive for the advancement of Homoeopathy throughout his life. Although he breathed his last on 2nd July 1843 at the ripe age of 88, yet he has become immortal because of his legacy of Homoeopathy to the needy world. He was a saint. We are all reaping the fruits of his Tapassya. Millions of people are getting enamoured of Homoeopathy whose future is extremely bright. Let us pay our grateful homage to this greatest benefactor of mankind and let us pledge ourselves today that we shall keep his candle burning for ever.
HAHNEMANN BI CENTENNIAL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS
By the Homoeopathic Practitioners Association, Bombay.
Hahnemann Bicentennial Birthday celebrations took place at Blavatsky Lodge, Bombay, on Sunday the 10th instant and it was largely attended by members of all the Homoeopathic Association, sympathisers, as also high dignitaries and officers of the Bombay Government.
The function was presided over by H.E. Dr. Hare Krishna Mehtab Governor of Bombay, after a devotional song sung by a group of young children.
Dr. A.C. Das, the President of the Homoeopathic Practitioners Association, welcomed the guests and requested His Excellency to garland the photograph of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann.
This being done, Dr. U.M. Menon, read out the messages received from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the Vice – President of India, Shri Bala Saheb Kher, Ex – Chief Minister of Bombay, Dr. M.D.D. Gilder, Ex – Health Minister of Bombay, Dr. W.S. Barlingay, M.P. Shri A.K. Gopalan, M.P., Col. K.V. Ramanna Rao, Dr. V.V. Athalye and others.
Shri M.M. Pakwasa, the Ex – Governor of Bombay, then spoke on the life and Mission of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. He suggested that all the Homoeopaths should join together, collect funds and establish a model college and hospital, for this he suggested the constitution of two Committees, one to look after the collections and the other to plan the Institution.
Dr. N.C. Vakil, Shri H.S. Shanker Rao, Dr. F.N. Surveyor and DR. Rai Baxi spoke on the life of Hahnemann.
In his presidential address, H.E. Dr. Hare Krishna Mehtab appealed to the Homoeopaths to take up the suggestions made by Shri Mangaldas Pakwasa and act up to them, so that the establishment of a college and Hospital could be effected in the near future. He said that Bombay Government was taking a good deal of interest in the propagation of Homoeopathy and are sparing no efforts in improving and encouraging this System of Medicine.
Referring to Hahnemann, the Great Founder of Homoeopathy, the Governor said that he was a great benefactor of mankind and advised the homoeopaths to emulate his example and serve the ailing patients. He asked the homoeopaths to shed their inferiority complex and go in for a systematic training in homoeopathy and create the necessary feith in the minds of the public, He averred that this system of medicine has a great future in India provided the right type of people took to it and practised it for the benefit of our masses.
After garlanding the President and singing of Jana Gana Mana, the function terminated.