Hahnemanns Organon still lives. It is still on sale in the book shops. It has never been “out of print.” Only a few years ago it was included in “Everymans Library,” and had a large sale. It is still read and still readable by intelligent men. When read today, however, for instruction or criticism, it must be in the light of the development of thought which have occurred since it was written if it is to be understood.


Under the above title the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association has published a volume of critical essays which have attracted much attention for their plain speaking. They are trenchantly written, cutting in their sarcasm and scathing in their ridicule. Superficially they are consistent with the facts of history, and have a seductive appearance of fairness. But in one chapter, at least, with which this review is concerned, there is exhibited a lack of knowledge, a distortion of facts, a mental bias, a spirit of negation, an absence of philosophic insight, and a covert hostility which entirely destroys any value which it might otherwise have.

Hahnemanns place in history as one of the worlds greatest physicians and reformers is secure. Homoeopathy has suffered grievously from misrepresentation and ridicule of outsiders, and the ignorance, incompetence and perversity of many of its own nominal adherents. But when it is classed with such passing delusion “Perkinsism” and “Abramism” and treated as quackery, so rank an injustice is done to the great school of philosophical thought which it represents, and a scientific system of pharmaco- therapeutics which has successfully stood the test of experience for more than a century, it is time to protest and expose such arrogance, ignorance and bigotry as is displayed in the chapter under review.

Hahnemanns Organon.

Hahnemanns Organon, the fountain head of homoeopathy, was published one hundred and fifteen years ago. It was clothed in the language and forms of thought of the period, now difficult to understand; but it dealt with subjects which are of perennial interest and importance. Since that time many changes have occurred in all departments of thought and activity. There has been progress in every branch of science and philosophy. But the fundamental principal common to all sciences have not changed even if they are now expressed differently. Great truths never die, and homoeopathy is a true science and a true philosophy.

Hahnemanns Organon still lives. It is still on sale in the book shops. It has never been “out of print.” Only a few years ago it was included in “Everymans Library,” and had a large sale. It is still read and still readable by intelligent men. When read today, however, for instruction or criticism, it must be in the light of the development of thought which have occurred since it was written if it is to be understood. Its statements must be interpreted and its principles elucidated from the standpoint of modern philosophy and science.

Fundamental principles are not always expressed or clearly stated in such works. They are often implied in the context. When the need for formal or explicit statement arises they must be deduced and brought to light by those who are competent to “read between the lines” and bring out the hidden meaning. No other treatment of such works is fair or honest. When that is done and the underlying principles of Hahnemanns Organon are identified and phrased in the language of today, it will be seen to be in almost perfect accord with modern science.

Hahnemann was a century ahead of his time in many things. He anticipated many of the later discoveries and developments of modern science and exercised a profound influence in bringing them about.

In his researches in cholera, for examples, Hahnemann fore- shadowed the bacteriological discoveries of Koch and Pasteur by three-quarters of a century. He did what Koch and Pasteur were unable to do. He cured cholera. If his suggestions for sanitary control had been adopted at the time, as they were eventually, cholera would have been stamped out much sooner.

Hahnemanns incidental researches and conclusions in physics and chemistry bearing upon the constitution of matter, the correlation of forces and conservation of energy, as implied or set forth in his theory of potentiation and demonstrated by the use of infinitesimal doses in the treatment of disease, have been verified by the results of modern scientific research in many fields.

Science is no longer afraid of the infinitesimal. Chemistry with its theories of ionization and infinite solutions, physics with its reduction of he atom, to mention only two fields, have merely worked out in detail, and verified ideas and principles which were stated or implied in Hahnemanns work more than a century ago.

Even “orthodox medicine,” most erratic, most backward, most bigoted and most perverse of all pseudo sciences, with its vaccines, serums and antitoxins, is stumbling along the therapeutic trail blazed a century ago by the man who is maligned, misrepresented, ridiculed, patronized and “damned with faint praise” by the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association in his flippant production. “The Medical Follies”-a terrier snapping at the heels of a thoroughbred.

DR. Fishbein on Homoeopathy.

Dr. Fishbein briefly outlines the medical theories of he eighteenth century preliminary to introducing Hahnemann, of whom he gives a few brief, fragmentary and misleading biographical notes. The article purports to trace the genesis of homoeopathy, critically estimate the work of its founder and chronicle the “rise and fall”.

Homoeopathy, according to Dr.Fishbein. is dead, and it is his happy privilege to write its obituary. This task he performs with gusto and despatch.

Hahnemann, Dr. Fishbein says, did not originate the system of which he was the founder. He appropriated it from Stahl. Paracelsus and Hoffman, and from other predecessors who prepared the stage upon which “there stepped a remarkable figure, Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann”.

From Cullen, we are told, came his first inspiration with the idea of similars. “Hahnemann read in a book by Cullen that Peruvian bark, the source of quinine, would cure malaria. This was true; Quinine does cure malaria. But what did Hahnemann do with the observation? Unfortunately he did not know that malaria is caused by a plasmodium which gets into the blood through the agency of a mosquito”.

“Unfortunately,” Dr.Fishbein does not know that quinine does not cure malaria. Quinine will kill the plasmodium of malaria in a test tube, and it will kill some of the plasmodia in the living subject by nearly killing the patient, who is never cured of his malaria by quinine unless it happens to be homoeopathic to his individual symptoms and is administered in sub-physiological doses. Otherwise the malaria is suppressed and the patient becomes the victim of the quinine cachexia.

“So Hahnemann evolved the theory that perhaps quinine cured malaria because it produced symptoms like those of malaria if given to a healthy man. He tried it on himself and it did.” (Sic.).

Hahnemann did not have or use quinine. He used small doses of the tincture of Peruvian bark, and cured such cases as required it under the principle of similia. Of what value, then, is the plasmodium theory?.

“His remarkable hypothesis became the basis of the system called homoeopathy, expressed in the phrase similia similibus curantur, like cures like”.

Dr. Fishbein then says: “This idea was not original; it was essentially a revival of the old Paracelsian doctrine of signatures-like cures like-except that Paracelsus directed his attack against the cause of the disease rather than at the symptoms.” (Exit Hahnemann as an originator.).

Notwithstanding the fact that Hahnemann was one of the most learned men in Europe, master of eleven languages, widely read in the entire literature of medicine, a chemist and physicist of high attainments, a student in the universities of Leipzig and Vienna and a graduate in medicine of Erlangen, a highly respected practitioner of medicine and author of many important original articles on medical and chemical topics, as well as the translator and annotator of a long list of medical books, all before he wrote and published the “Organon,” Dr. Fishbein has the effrontery to say :

“Hahnemann seems to have known practically nothing of, or to have been unwilling to recognize the existence of those definite changes in the human body that are associated with disease and that are now included under the science of pathology”.

On the contrary, Hahnemanns works are “all compact” with references to and descriptions of those “definite changes in the human body that are associated with disease” (a phrase strikingly Hahnemann in itself) which, together with the “definite changes: associated with drugs, as brought out in his numerous “provings” upon healthy subjects, are the very materials of which the edifice of homoeopathy is constructed. In like manner, Hahnemanns magnificent original generalization from data gathered by many years of research, of the protean, well -nigh universal scourge of humanity now known as tuberculosis-“The great White Plague”-but named by him Psora, is contemptuously dismissed by Dr.Fishbein in the following paragraph :

Morris Fishbein