In collating the references in the “Organon” to the vital force a peculiar fact not hitherto noticed is brought out.
They fall naturally into two classes which may be roughly characterized as respectful and disrespectful.
In the first class Hahnemann describes the vital force as “spiritual,” “spirit-like,” “invisible,” “immaterial,” “known only by its effects,” “omnipresent in the body,” “indefatigable vital principle,” etc.
“In the healthy condition of man,” he says, “the spiritual vital force )autocracy), the dynamis that animates the material body (organism), rules with unbounded sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards both sensations and functions, so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence.” (Par. 9. sixth edition).
“The material organism, without the vital force, is capable of no sensation, no function, no self-preservation; it derives all sensation and performs all the functions of life solely by means of the immaterial being (the vital principle) which animates the material organism in health and disease.” (Par. 10 sixth edition).
“When a person falls ill, it is only this spiritual, self- acting (automatic) vital force, everywhere present in his organism, that is primarily deranged by the dynamic influence upon it of a morbific agent inimical to life; it is only the vital principle, deranged to such an abnormal state, that can furnish the organism with its disagreeable sensations, and incline it to the irregular processes which we call disease; for as a power invisible in itself, and only cognizable by its effects on the organism, its morbid derangement only makes itself known by the manifestation of disease in the sensation and functions of those parts of the organism exposed to the senses of the observer and physicians, that is by morbid symptoms, and in no other way can it make itself known.” (Par. 2, sixth edition.).
The material organism and “the instinctively perceiving and regulating dynamis,” like the interior “morbidly deranged dynamis” and the totality of the external signs and symptoms of disease, constitute a unity-in each case are one and the same- “although in thought our mind separates this unity into two distinct conceptions for the sake of easy comprehension”.
Life, therefore, considered by Hahnemann as an entitative power or principle, a real being, corresponding to the modern scientific conception of Energy (except that he recognizes the energy as endowed with intelligence, which only a few, and those the greatest of modern scientists, will admit), is not only the basis of all activities of the organism, but is the active agent itself manifesting through all the body in both health and disease-a far-reaching conception of tremendous importance and absolutely fundamental in the homoeopathic healing art.
Here it should be noted that in some passages Hahnemann uses the terms “life,” force” and “vital force” interchangeably. In other passages. especially in the sixth edition of the “Organon,” he distinguishes between life (the entitative power or principle), and the life force, by naming the life principle “the Dynamis,” or simply calling it the life principle. In these latter cases life is the thing that acts, and “the life force” is the action of the thing, abstractly considered.
To Hahnemann, as to all substantialists, life is a real being or thing, not a mere state or condition, the cause, not the effect, precisely as “energy” to the physicist is a real thing, a being, a power or principle that acts. Of course, it is invisible, intangible, immaterial (using the word in the ordinary sense), but none the less real, substantial and powerful. All forms of energy, including life, electricity, radio-activity and the ether are invisible and immaterial and known to us only by their phenomena in connection with or through matter and material things and organisms.
It was in the endeavor to make this scientific fact clear that Hahnemann, in describing the life force, unfortunately used the words “spiritual” and “spirit-like”-unfortunate, not because they were not perfectly legitimate and illuminating words to use, but because the use of theological words in a scientific discussion shocks the delicate sensibilities of the average scientist today almost as much as the use of a scientific word shocks the equally delicate sensibilities of the average orthodox theologian.