Hahnemanns earliest work on materia medica (1805) was entitled Fragmenta de viribus medicamentorum positivis sine in sano corpore humano observatis.
A criticism of this work is to be found in Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal of 1809, vol.5.
The criticism is evidently written by a well-meaning and well- informed scientific physician of the Old School. It begins with the erroneous statement: “This work enjoys a very high reputation in its native country.” No doubt the critics remark refers to the author, nor to the book. He further says:.
We agree perfectly with Dr. Hahnemann as to the importance of the study which he strongly recommends, but we will not allow that it has been so absolutely neglected as he supposes or represents it to be. Every monographer and compiler has noticed the positive as well as relative effects (of drugs).
By this we perceive that the critic did not understand in the least Hahnemanns strict inductive method of experimentation. Positive effect were never before taken notice of in the way Hahnemann observed them. Effects of drugs were never purely observed. That is, according to the old and acknowledged use of the word pure (rein), meaning free from guessing, free from application, free from deductive conclusions-simply inductive. Hahnemann was the first, among all observers in medicine, who was strictly inductive in his method of experimentation.
That the inductive method of reasoning was introduced by the so-called Lord Bacon, is a widely spread error. Bacon may have made use of the term but himself had not an idea of its true meaning. This was given sufficient proof both by Draper of New York, and by Liebig in Germany. All of the great discoveries of his age, based on inducting, Bacon denied in his works. Harvey, the greatest physiologist of the new era, he sneeringly dubbed a “jawbones”, and rejected the doctrine of the circulation of the blood. Bacon even published a formula for making gold!.
Our critic further states:.
He sincerely regrets that by the injudicious manner in which Hahnemann had arranged, or rather had neglected to arrange, his facts he had rendered his labors as useless as could possibly be conceived. Has he given us merely his notes of a few of the most satisfactory experiments on each substance, we could have drawn our own conclusion from them. We could have had the raw material, which we might have dressed so as to suit our purpose.
The critic in honest though evidently very ignorant of the strict inductive method of reasoning. The particular thing that Hahnemann did not wish was to “draw conclusions.”, or to “dress up material to suit a purpose”. Hahnemann desired no conclusions excepting such as would further the healing of the sick through the greatest similarity of genuine symptoms between the drug and the patient.
Still laboring under a complete misapprehension of the facts, our critic continues as follows.
Our author, with infinite labor to himself, and inconceivable want of judgment (!) has worked and worked amongst it until the materials, collected with much care, are rendered useless and incapable of being turned to any purpose, even in the hands of the most expert workman.
Knowing, as we do, that all that Hahnemann worked for was the healing of the sick, we must conclude that if he had not been capable to do this successfully he would not have been able to make a living for himself and family between the years of 1790 and 1805. After the Fragmenta was published, he, with an increasing practice, was enabled to cure Arnold, a prominent publisher, who offered to print his Organon and his Materia Medica.
Nor would he have been able to cope successfully with the murderous war typhus of 1813, after which triumph he obtained his first sincere follower and disciple, Ernst Stapf, who brought into the ranks his friend the elder Gross. Thousands of converts, with the love of healing in their souls, followed to spread his doctrines throughout the world.
It is pitiful to read what our clever opponent, the critic, writes i continuation:.
Hahnemann has not selected what was most valuable, nor arranged it according to a judicious plan; he had not given merely results, but frittered them down to atoms, not even worth the name of fragments. He has neglected to mention the circumstances under which the effects were produced-the effects lose half their value; he has still further reduced their value by ridiculous minuteness.
One need but examine the index to find that Hahnemann mentioned modalities never before sufficiently esteemed to be noticed by physicians or pathologists.
Other objections equally unfounded follow. There are mentioned dosage, age of subject, doubts if the effects were attributable to the drug, or were such as might appear from taking a glass of water, or doing anything, or nothing at all, or might have been simply imaginary.
Any, or all of these puerile objections, are refuted by the truly inductive manner in which Hahnemann describes his very first proving, and by every subsequent step in his investigations; as also by the elimination of material found useless in the experience brought by the years of practice that followed.
It is cheap to doubt. With results in practice that over whelmingly sustain the truth, and the fact that every drug sufficiently proved and tried had acquired a certain characteristic image, which all of our well proved and tried remedies have obtained, all superficial doubts must dwindle away.
How miserable and mean it appears to us, in our time, to have the same objections made to the works of the master repeated almost verbatim! How puerile to make objections, whether in good faith or in ignorance, to the methods of Hahnemann conducted according to the strictest inductive method of reasoning, governed by facts and pure observation on the prover as well as on the sick! It must be that there is a woeful lack of courage, or a want of love for healing, or of thinking it too much trouble, that disposes men to “draw conclusions” or to “dress up the material to suit their purposes”. The too-much-trouble principle is perhaps the worst of all, since by it failure to cure are blamed on homoeopathy.
So much for England and its Scotch critic. In Germany the method of Hahnemann was treated much worse, when new. The same treatment was accorded to other prominent men. Lambert, a philosopher and mathematician of the highest rank, was neglected and forgotten. Kant, a very talented man, became the fashion as in our age the crinoline and high heels with women.
It may be mentioned as a strange coincidence, that a certain Brown, a former student of Cullen, put his older master into the shade by inventing a so-called new system of medicine.
Thou must, thought I, observe how medicines act on the human body, when it is in the tranquil state of health. The alterations that medicines produces in the healthy body do not occur in vain, they must signify something, else why should they? What if those alternations have in important, an extremely important signification.
What if this be the only utterance whereby those substances can impart information to the observer respecting the end of their being; what if the changes and sensations which such medicine produces in the healthy human organism, be the only comprehensible language by which-if they be not smothered by severe symptoms of some existing disease-it can distinctly discourse to the unprejudiced observer respecting its specific tendencies, respecting its peculiar, pure, positive power, by means of which it is capable of effecting alterations in the body, that is, of deranging the healthy organism, and-where it can cure-of changing into health the organism that has been deranged by disease! This was what I thought.
I carried my reflections farther: “How else could medicines effect what they do in diseases than by means of this power of theirs to alter the healthy body? (which is most certainly different in every mineral substance, and consequently presents in each a different series of phenomena, accidents and sensations.) Certainly in this way alone can they cure.” Hahnemanns letter to Hufeland, 1790.