We are all vitally concerned with the future of Homoeopathy. Many earnest homoeopaths have discussed for years and emphasized the urgency of modernizing Homoeopathy. However, no attempt has succeeded so far in solving the complicated problems involved, because no solution has reached the essence of the question. C. P. Bryant, M.D., our eminent ex-chairman of the Committee on Research, has worked for years to obtain that goal. He thinks that the way of achieving it is to prove Homoeopathy through physics.
This idea is basically sound, and this paper is a contribution to a similar purpose. It is my belief that we are concerned fundamentally with a question of language and that the solution can be found through general semantics. This can be done by a reformulation and a new methodology similar to the one applied in mathematical language.
The fundamental facts and principles of Homoeopathy cannot be denied. These have been proved time and time again for a century and a half. What has been rejected a priori by the majority of the profession are the theories, explanations and formulations of these facts. In the last two decades all sciences, whether mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, etc., have been undergoing a radical change from a static to a dynamic conception, as particularly exemplified by the theories of Einstein, Eddington, Korzybski and many others.
By introducing the notion of non-elementalism in physics and the extensional fourth dimension of space-time, as opposed to the old Aristotelian idea of space and time, Einstein has made it possible for the mathematical language to translate the dynamic into the static and vice-versa, and so established similarity of structure between language and facts, which was impossible by Aristotelian methods. This is primarily a process of general semantics. The proof of the importance of the new concept has been thunderously established at Los Alamos and at Hiroshima.
Homoeopathy is suffering the same kind of inadequacy as the other sciences. It was formulated over a century ago when scientific medicine was in its infancy. We should express it with the knowledge of 1949. To cure the trouble, we need to apply the Law of Similars.
Unless there is a close similarity, between language and facts, such as is achieved in modern mathematics, there is no satisfactory solution to the problem. We need another Korzybski or Einstein to apply to the new methodology to Homoeopathy. Dr. Alfred Korzybski invented a new kind of rational logic–a new methodology of thinking and speaking, dealing with all the fields of human activities.
Last year at Atlantic City, Dr. Edward C. Whitmonts brilliant presentation Whitmont, Edw. C.: The Law of Similars in Analytical Psychology, The Homoeopathic Recorder, LXIV: 9, pp. 230-4 (March 1949). rekindled my interest in semantics. Six months ago I had the privilege of reading Alfred Korzybskis book, Science and Sanity–an Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics. This formidable book is to semantics what the Organon is to Homoeopathy.
Webster defines the term “Semantics: as the “science of meaning of language.” This science barely existed until Korzybski developed it and brought attention to its tremendous importance, not only in science, but in all domains of life. He enlarged considerably that branch of philosophy to cope with the growing complexities of modern times. He formulated a new system of orientation involving psychosomatic factors and established “structure” as the only possible content of knowledge.
One should not confuse the old semantics–a theory of verbal meanings and words defined by words–with Korzybskis general semantics where one deals only with neuro-semantics and neuro- linguistic living reactions.
We forget that words are objectively, noises; subjectively, symbols and abstractions. The word is not the object. Because of wrong training from childhood on, we are taught words and language first, and the actual facts they represent come next in value. This is a pathologically reversed order by which we are unconsciously being trained to “identify” words with facts. This is called “identification”, which means confusion of order of abstraction.
Because of that fundamental, unconscious confusion, our nervous system is modified in its reflexes during its development and this vitiates our semantic reactions. An extreme illustration of identification is to be found in dementia praecox, where the patient takes his hallucinations for realities. Another typical instance of identification is the sneeze of an allergic patient suddenly confronted with a bouquet of roses–artificial paper roses! Another example: the homoeopathic potency, Phosphorus 10M, obviously means something different to me, to a low potency practitioner, to an allopath, to a physicist and to a layman.
To the latter it means nothing; to the allopath, a mere figment of the imagination; to the physicist or to the low-potency confrere, a theoretical abstraction; but to me, and those who have prescribed Phos. 10M, homoeopathically, it is an actuality confirmed by experience. So the same word has a different meaning for different individuals, and this is the source of serious semantic reactions: heated discussions, confusion, conflict, misunderstanding and cold war in the medical profession.
What is the Aristotelian system?
Most of the disturbances in the world today, whether scientific; religious, or political, are due to the Aristotelian system of logic and semantics, which is 2,300 years old. When one realizes the progress of science and knowledge since that time, one is appalled by the fact that the structure of language is still the same. Principles are immutable but their applications vary as our knowledge expands. Aristotle, twenty three centuries ago, took the structure of the primitive language of his time for granted and formulated from it a philosophical grammar called logic, and defined it as the “Law of Thought”. This has been transmitted and accepted implicitly from generation to generation up to the present time.
Before going further I should clarify the important terms “elementalism”, “elementalistic”. They derive from the word “element”, defined by Webster as a first principle, an ingredient, one of the 87 simple, ultimate, indecomposable constituents of any kind of matter. Elementalism is the theory which identifies the divinities of the ancients with the elemental powers. At the time of Aristotle there were only four elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. In my school days there were 84 elements corresponding to the same Aristotelian definition. The ninety two elements known at the present time appear to be “transitory processes capable of transmutation with a life of a limited span of years.” One can grasp the tremendous difference between the permanent, unalterable, ultimate, static elements of the old Aristotelian concept and the opposite, new, dynamic, functional one of 1949.
Here are 11 of the most important postulates of the Aristotelian system. I quote from Science and Sanity, page 92:.
1. The postulate of uniqueness of subject-predicate representation.
2. The two-valued elementalistic logic, as expressed in the law of the excluded third.
3. The lack of discrimination between the “is” of identity, the “is” of predication, the “is” of existence and the “is” used as an auxiliary verb.
4. The elementalism exemplified by the assumed sharp division of senses and mind, percept and concept, emotion and intellect, etc.
5. The elementalistic theory of meaning.
6. The elementalistic postulate of two-valued cause-effect.
7. The elementalistic theory of definitions which disregards undefined terms.
8. The three dimensional theory of propositions and language.
9. The assumption of the cosmic validity of grammar. 10. The preference of intentional methods.
11. The additive and elementalistic definition of “man.”
What is Korzybskis non-Aristotelian system?
Korzybski rejects all the above postulates. He bases his non-Aristotelian system-function on the negative “is not” premise (the word is not the object), and accepts relations, structure and order as fundamentals.
He accepts the infinite-valued non-elementalistic logic of probability and introduces differential and four dimensional methods.
He applies the principle of non-elementalism to the theory of definitions based on undefined terms.
He formulates the psycho-physiological theory of semantic reactions. Psychosomatic medicine has demonstrated that symptoms related to the heart, digestion, circulation, sex, skin, etc., have a semantogenic, and therefore, a neuro-semantic and neuro- linguistic origin.
Korzybski establishes the multi-ordinality of terms and expands the two-term cause-effect relation into the infinite- valued causality.
He defines “man” is non-elementalistic functional terms, based on the analysis of uniquely human potentialities; namely, that each generation may begin where the former left off. He calls this essential characteristic the “time-binding capacity”.
He does not split verbally and elementalistically the reactions of humans into separate body, mind, emotion, intellect, intuition, etc., but studies them under a new angle: the organism-as-a-whole in its external as well as internal environment. This new definition of man, which is neither zoological nor mythological, but functional and extensional, requires a complete revision of what we know about humans.
I apologize for what elaborating and giving you practical examples for these various postulates. Korzybski needed some 800 pages to do it. I can only refer you to Science and Sanity to study them, and it will be well worth your while.
Hahnemanns synthetic and dynamic theories conform to modern general semantics.
Static and analytic medicine follows the Aristotelian logic by considering the elementalistic, theoretical disease entity first, and the patient after. It wrongly fits the latter to the former. It considers that the first duty of the physician is to make a diagnosis. It was conceived to apply drugs mostly to the animal in man–to separate organs, on the physiological level. The genius of Hahnemann, anticipating the functional non- Aristotelian system, asserts in paragraph one of the Organon that: “The physicians highest and only calling is to cure the sick”, –thereby not confusing the aim of medicine with the means (diagnosis). Hahnemann proclaimed Homoeopathy as an essentially human medicine.
He took into consideration first, the object–that is, the patient. He emphasized the fundamental importance of considering the sick as an individuality, or organism-as-a-whole in its external, as well as its internal, environment. He did not fail to integrate the mental and psychic features of the patient and to evaluate them logically, thereby anticipating psychosomatic medicine. In the study of the patient, Hahnemann and his followers advocated a close and orderly scrutiny of the symptoms, an hierarchical evaluation of what comes first and what comes last, what is common and what is peculiar.
For example: a patient needs a homoeopathic remedy for cough; it is impossible for the homoeopathic physician to prescribe on that symptom alone. To obtain a homoeopathic prescription the physician has to investigate the various modalities of that particular cough, but he might miss the target unless he also incorporates in the physio-pathologic picture the generalities and whatever mental disturbances that might be present. General semantics does with words, terms and language what homoeopathy does with symptoms: it individualizes.
By introducing his consciousness of abstraction, Korzybski explores, explains and expands this all-important process.
Hahnemann stressed the necessity of proving drugs on humans in order to determine the curative specificity of drugs on humans.
Long before the discovery of the microscope and the atom, Hahnemann perceived the dynamic action of drugs in sub- microscopical dilutions on sub-microscopical levels.
These various, synthetic, functional, revolutionary theories fit perfectly with Korzybskis non-Aristotelian system and new concept of man.
There is, among many others, a pregnant chapter in Science and Sanity of the “infinitesimal” and “cause and effect” that is worth studying and applying to the whole problem of high potencies.
Says Korzybski: “Mathematics is entirely a product of higher abstractions created by definitions of undefined terms … it appears as a very limited, but the only, language in existence in the main similar in structure to the world around us and the nervous system”.
Homoeopathy has to be modernized and re-formulated with an adequate language in the light of 1949 knowledge. It has to be integrated into its right place in medicine. Its basic principles and theories are in harmony with the new general semantics, which has permitted the tremendous modern advance in science. Such a gigantic task will require the cooperation of physicians, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, biologists and philologists.
The above considerations barely touch and fringe of the subject of general semantics. They are intended to stimulate the curiosity and bring about an awareness of new angles in these old and confusing problems.
DR. W.H. WOLFRAM [Cincinnati, Ohio]: Mr. President and Members: I think Dr. Schmidts paper on semantics in relationship to Homoeopathy has been of great interest to us all though some of it is over our heads, I am afraid. We should like to hear more from Dr. Schmidt.
When I was first starting in practice, I was confused by the term “physical therapy” and I know one confusion was that it was more psychical than it was physical, and when I got into the etymology of the word “medicine” and the word “doctor” and the word “psychical” and the word “physical” I found that etymology was not a very satisfactory subject. It just led on and on and on.
Later, in the University of Vienna, I went to Professor Paul Phade, the correlator for Sigmund Freud, and he turned me over the Wilhelm Schteckel for a psychoanalysis. Well, it ended up that I became an addict to psychoanalysis and stayed on beyond the seven weeks that I had intended to stay there in 1933. I stayed for a year and received my certificate in psychoanalysis. I have never put it on my walls nor have I ever told a patient in Cincinnati about it. I have enough trouble here being a homoeopath and with the homoeopaths I have too much trouble being an eclectic and with the chiropractors I have an awful lot of trouble being an M.D. And I am not trying to be funny about it. I find that there is a confusion of meanings.
These words that I have used have, as Dr. Schmidt has pointed out, different connotations to different people. I am sure the word “bull” means entirely differing things to Dr. Schmidt than it does to me, because he is a gentleman. (Laughter) And I am sure too that is a paucity of information on the subject of semantics. DR. HARVEY FARRINGTON [Chicago, Illinois]: I have only a word to say regarding this excellent paper, and I think it forebodes a step in the right direction, not only in science and philosophy but in homoeopathic thinking.
Words are only the expressions of thoughts and the words are accurate only so long as they express the thought truly. I can foresee along this line that not only have we begun to build the bridge between those two in our own profession, but also to clarify our conceptions and our thoughts within the homoeopathic school with the result of more unity in thinking and the doing away with a lot of the differences, the correcting of the opinions of those who are still thinking materialistically and not willing to give the high potencies any credit for conception and results.
I think we ought to be thankful to the doctor for this paper and as time goes on, as meeting occur, undoubtedly we will get more.
DR. MARION B. ROOD [Lapeer, Michigan]: I thank Dr. Schmidt for this paper. Physicists are always trying to get beyond words to the entity which the words describe and in physics we see they have expressed it this way, in one branch of physics– “Given a medium on which light falls, some is absorbed, some is reflected, and some is scattered. For perfect absorption, the light must have a frequency characteristic that is identical with the frequency which the absorbing medium has, and we call it resonance.
Such light might be totally absorbed and energy disappears and matter appears. What light the medium is capable of absorbing, it is also capable of emitting, characteristically,, and after all, we might have the disappearance of matter and the appearance of energy which has given rise to some of the phenomena of this age called atomic energy and the marvelous discoveries of Einstein”.
But on the whole, some energy is absorbed, some reflected, and some scattered, meaning there is not perfect resonance between the energy frequency and the characteristic frequency periodic to the absorbing medium. When we get our ideas all mixed up, then I believe the psychologists talk about split personalities. They dont know what to do. Their energy is scattered and they react as split personalities.
When we have perfect confidence in ourselves, we emit an energy characteristic of us. We have perfectly assimilated it and now re-emit energy. We have perfect understanding, I believe.
But seldom do we get a 100 per cent understanding, and I believe that is the aim of this semantics and I wish to thank Dr. Schmidt and I am looking forward to time to study that paper more carefully.
DR. EDWARD C. WHITMONT [New York City]: Inasmuch as some of the blame was put on me, I have to stand up. I have read Dr. Schmidts paper, though I just came in and did not hear it.
One thing has struck me during the last few years more and more, namely that apparently something like a new era of thinking is arising for the first time during the last two thousand years. What I might call the inflexibility of thinking, placing things in black or white, mutually exclusive–if one is true, the other cannot be true–is changing. What Dr. Schmidt calls the Aristotelian method of thinking is gradually drawing to an end. It probably came into existence because it was a necessary school for man to learn this kin of thinking. However, it is not adequate to the phenomena of nature.
It is of quite some interest what, for instance, we now learn from Jungs work. They have shown, too, that this “either. any phenomena of the unconscious, of the human soul –that things never are black or white or light or shadowy, but that the opposites do not only not exclude but rather require and include each other.
This is something that is very tough to us. This is something that we have to learn to realize. It is something that does away with what we considered logical until now.
I believe that the subject of semantics tries in some way to tackle this difficulty at its roots, namely, doing away with the erroneous expression of language. After all, our language expresses our thinking and as our thinking so will be our language. What does this do? Does this have any practical import? I think it does.
For instance, to give one example, you are in the habit of seeing your Belladonna patient as flushed, red-faced, and so forth, but outstanding Belladonna indications are patients with a pale face; because Belladonna is flushed, for this very reason Belladonna is also pale.
This is because for every force that has a certain direction of action, we always will find a complementary force having the opposite direction of action. It is what Hahnemann calls the primary and secondary drug effect which, however, we continuously meet with not only in the instance of the crude substance against the potency, but even in the reactions to the same potency of different patients but even of the same patients.
Another example is the 4 to 8 p.m. aggravation; just as often, nearly, you will find a 4 to 8 a.m. aggravation in Lycopodium, or even perhaps an outstanding improvement at 4 to 8 p.m. As long as our thinking is strictly to the one line, seeing only the point but never is complementary opposite, we often are floored by these prescribing problems.
The same flexibility of polar entities as part of one unit applies to homoeopathic thinking, and I believe is an essential part of a homoeopathic thinking is strictly to the one line, seeing only the point but never its complementary opposite, we often are floored by these prescribing problems.
The same flexibility of polar entities as part of one unit applies to homoeopathic thinking, and I believe is an essential part of homoeopathic thinking. And I would thank you very much, DR. Schmidt, for bringing up this crucial point.
DR. SCHMIDT [Closing]: I want to thank all the good doctors who have commented so kindly on my paper. I feel very well rewarded for my efforts. Also, I hope to have aroused your curiosity; and maybe some of you would like to dig into these very fundamental basic things, such as semantics; they found an appropriate expression, in Korzybskis book “Science and Sanity,” which you can no doubt easily obtain from your library.
Lets hope next year, and in the years to come, others will tackle the subject from their particular angles, and help to integrate Homoeopathy in its rightful place in medicine and science.