The Man: As we have concerned ourselves in this book according to the aim of the complete work principally with Hahnemanns scientific performance, the creation of homoeopathy, so we cannot here be concerned with a description and a dissection of the whole of his personality. There shall be mentioned here only in a summary manner that part of his nature which in some way has expressed itself in his works.
Hahnemann, arising from small circumstances, already in his youth felt his forces stirring and saw himself recognized as a talented boy already in school and treated correspondingly. As he then left the narrow confinement of his home and the wind of a free life whistled about his ears, he will certainly have suffered from the limitations and privations which poverty brought with it. It must have been particularly painful to him that he was compelled to earn his bread by translations and teaching in place of beating a direct path of science. Many slightings will have painfully touched the self-consciousness of the endowed but poor student.
Thus in him an originally marked self-consciousness will have paired itself with sensitivity so that he responded to all attacks made against his doctrine with great sharpness. With this was combined desire to acknowledgment and ambition of which one usually tends to speak only if they have been restrained by repressions, while in those who son obtain a place corresponding to their capacities by progressing on a smooth path these characteristics appear less markedly and consequently one speaks less of them although in themselves they may be stronger than in the other.
Soon also appeared in Hahnemann the tendency to overstress an opinion right in itself and to perceive it as alone valid, as can be observed already before the presentation of his new doctrine, for example in his fight against coffee.
Regard for rank probably at that time played a much lesser Role on the whole than later; but it seems as though Hahnemann always considered it particularly little. Already in his first writings there is to be found very depreciating opinion of his “medical fellows.” But one may also perceive therein perhaps as in his conditional recognition of the accomplishments of shepherds, executioners, etc., more the lack of prejudice of a superior mind.
Worthy of note is furthermore his great diligence land his gigantic working power which permitted him to remain at his writing desk the greatest part of the night, or by the side of a retort. Only in such a manner can the number of books and his studies be understood, besides his later ever-growing practice with its great exchange of correspondence.
With this disposition it could not fail to occur that after the representation of his new doctrine his already slight feeling of communion lessened still more and in combination with other qualities as self- consciousness and sensitivity, led to a special attitude towards his colleagues which was devoid of all regard. Through the lack of recognition of his doctrine and the unfriendly echo which came to him, his humor was naturally not improved and its published expression did not become friendlier.
So in a vicious circle the dissension between the two parties led on both sides lot a very sharp type of discussion, in which unfortunately the personal tone was not lacking. As it always tends to happen in such instances the blame rests on both sides; but one cannot absolve Hahnemann from he blade that he has given the guiding motive to the inharmonious concert of the next decades.
Moreover, one must not forget that the tone of treatment among his contemporaries with their opponents frequently was not the most friendly, one which I mention only John Brown, Schelling and, as the most famous example, Schopenhauer, with whom similar reasons existed in that the unfortunate unsalaried lecturer understandably did not have the most cordial feelings for his powerful opponents at the University as Schelling and Hegel.
That this irritative tone between homoeopathy and school medicine still obtains in our time is essentially due to the fact that in homoeopathy we do not have a theoretic philosophic system before us about which one soon tends to be appeased, but a medical doctrine which naturally ever again leads to a friction in practical life whereby often the fight over bread was not the least factor.
Since, as is well known, in the nineteenth century money played no Role at all and also physicians and in particular the famous gave away their services for nothing, so repeatedly one has reproached Hahnemann in that, particularly when he acquired a reputation, he also demanded a greater fee and, when he assumed the capacity to pay, insisted on payment. Actually no reproach can be made out of this as we are informed on the other hand also of magnanimous remissions and the free treatment of the poor.
A mysterious impulse tends to lead a man to the place were he belongs according to his nature. If desire for money had been chief bent of Hahnemanns personality, he would have scarcely left the direct route of the practitioner and struck out on the stony path of the investigator and publisher, of which he could not know where they would lead him while even today for many the work in the temple of science is only a means to gain proximity to the poor-box.
If one considers further that even early Hahnemann had to support a large family and if one recalls of his later times that he was conscious that the had given great things some compensation, then this old reproach reveals itself a one of the poisoned arrows which were and are common as f old against the personality of inconvenient and hated opponents.
If Hahnemann had not had been the founder of homoeopathy, about which there still rages a fight, not very factually conducted by either side, then a with other great people, so with him, such personal defamations would never have been uttered or at least long since would have fallen into oblivion.
That the suspicion of his love for truth falls into nothing precisely in so seemingly a strong case as that of alkali pneum, has already been shown above.
If one reviews his writings and other characterizations, in particular his correspondence as a totality so one at any rate gains the impression of a man who was led in his thinking and doing by higher impulses even if we consider that in the then prevailing idiom much sounds more worthy than we would express it today.
Measured on the highest ideal of a human picture one will feel his hardness and intolerance as defect but just with him, similarly as with the equally hard and intolerant Luther one will judge these weaknesses more mildly since they were essentially not crass selfish impulses but he regarded it as a sacred obligation purely to transmit and maintain the new doctrine. it is to be hoped that with the initiated better evaluation of homoeopathy likewise the nature of its founder will no longer be perceived in such a partisan depreciatory manner.
The Work: If now in a brief summary Hahnemanns scientific work is to be evaluated so I omit here his services in the field of chemistry, hygiene, and psychiatry (See IV and VI). Only his chief accomplishment, the creation of homoeopathy, shall be considered here.
Hahnemann was, as deserves to be stressed over again, by virtue of his essential constitution, not a theorist nor even less speculator but empiricist whose chief goal it was to create a medicine without theory on the nature of diseases and without musing on “first causes” and the like. If this is not appreciated the basic motivation of his thinking and striving will not be understood.
Above (Chap.IX) Hahnemann was placed into comparison with Kant because he strived to do in medicine what Kant wanted to accomplish in philosophy: to mark out the limits of experience. for this reason one may call Hahnemann the “Kant of Medicine”, his goal was “to create a medicine within as shall be stressed here once more, the laying down of fundamentals and another the erection of an edifice in which, in regard to the sub- structure and the execution, many errors were made.
When we proceed from this fundamental of his nature to his particular views then first it is to be considered that from the beginning he was a supporter of vitalism and consequently from he very start was oriented to consideration of the living body and its counteraction (reaction) to influences and to have this interwoven into his trends of thoughts.
Already in his early works, particularly in the “Instruction for Surgeons” (1789) Hahnemann frequently employed the conception and likewise i the first work on his new doctrine (1796) (Nr.64) we find this conception which probably made it easier for him, if it did not permit him to present the “similia similibus” as a possible principle and one not contradictory to reason. With this he has created the building ground upon which he could erect his “Medicine of Experience”.
Naturally, it was first necessary to balance accounts with the ten prevailing medicine, so Hahnemann practiced a particularly detailed and sharp critique at is experimental basis, wherein he concerned himself especially with the prevailing materia medica and proved that one did not possess any fixed fundamental for evaluating the abundant treasure of materia medica on the basis of established knowledge. Even if Hahnemann here was not the first nor the only on to place a finger on this wound and he was able to base his views on Albrecht von Haller in particular, still his criticisms was the sharpest and most fundamental.
As already in the first works, then as a homoeopathist, Hahnemann all the more attacked the polypharmacy then usual, soon going over to the practice of always administering only one remedy to the patient. This critique of materia medica in general and the poly-pharmacy in particular was not without effect and even if this influence on current medicine by Hahnemann has found little mention in the literature but proceeded in a more sub- terranean fashion and silently; still it is unmistakable that on this point with his denying critique as well as with his positive doctrine he exerted a marked influence on medicine of the nineteenth century.
Already in his prehomoeopathic time he had drawn attention to the crisis of ten being unsuitable. Later doubts were increased and became a chief point in his attack against the prevailing medicine which he reproached for the clumsy imitation of the crises, in later times accordingly he proceeded to not recognize these manifestations as “crises” at all and often speaks of the “so-called crises.” Also in this point he was a forerunner of views later becoming of views later becoming general.
Of other questions of prevailing medicine in which he can be designated as a forerunner, I mention also the attack of the then excessively employed nd later universal venesection as well as his view that cholera was caused by a microorganism. That he was the first in Germany to reject forcible measurers in mental cases should be mentioned briefly in passing (See Chap. VI).
In regard tot he chief constituents of his doctrine, so his simile principle was a great cast, such as has only rarely occurred in the long history of medicine. That it may actually be regarded as healing principle is certain and already hits alone is an unperishable accomplishment of Hahnemann which, however, could not be appreciated during the florescence of materialism and naturalism. Though when the regarded it later as the sole law of healing, he overstretched the domain of this principle.
His second great accomplishment is the first creation of a materia medical resin on experiments and, indeed, experiments on healthy humans, a merit which will remain to him, even when one is conscious that many weaknesses adhered to it, as it can scarcely be otherwise in a first attempt i n such a great difficult field.
As a great observer which he undoubtedly was, he found the hypersensitivity of the sick body to the drugs selected according to the simile law and consequently prescribed doses. Moreover he soon went over to such small doses that one must here also accuse him to excess in regard to a principle in itself correct, whereby he irreparably damaged his doctrine and its extension.
That he also proceeded in a new way in regard to preparation of drugs, the suitability of which was subsequently recognized by others, shall be mentioned only incidentally; I recall the tinctures from fresh plant juices, the medicinal preparation of otherwise inactive substances by means of trituration and the introduction of the decimal system in the dilutions.
Also the manner and way in which he prescribed his remedies reveal a rare acuity as has been stressed recently by Bier. the single principles of his doctrine are brought into close connection with each other, indeed combined in a remarkable way so that a structure, genial in a way, and of a completeness developed, which is shown only by few in the variegated history of medicine.
One often speaks of Hahnemanns “system” but in truth one does him wrong in doing so because Hahnemann would only be a physician and his doctrine should only give to the physician what is indispensable for healing. So considered it is only a practical supplement of other knowledge which a physician needs.
As the remark of Hahnemann on the “royal road” in his early publication “Attempt at a New Principle” (1796) shows by which he means the removal of the first cause of a disease, he considers his doctrine to some extent only as a way out in order to circumvent the then existing difficulties of making a “cure of the cause.” Thus he himself would take the “royal road” in case and in so far as it could be travelled.
Later, as it tends to happen, this viewpoint appeared in the background as his doctrine became independent; but it was not entirely lost and if Hahnemann were living today and possessed his own mind, then in cases where the cause lies clear before the eyes and is directly removable he would travel this “royal road.” But since this is frequently not possible even today, homoeopathy has still a task to fulfill and in a time that seriously considers not merely transferring simply the mechanically conceived procedures of investigate institutions to sick persons certainly will be able to fulfill great task and give real stimulation.
That Hahnemann can also be reproached with severe errors, onesidednesses and excesses has been repeatedly mentioned in our presentation. It is, moreover, the right, no, the duty of a historian, not to overemphasize these at the cost of all the correct, significant things indeed pointing to the future of which there are enough in Hahnemann.
How his contemporaneous and the future world concerned itself with his doctrine and how it happened that it could not gain the influence in the development of modern medicine which it could well have claimed on the basis of the content of truth innate in it, will be discussed extensively in the two following parts of the work.
From the side of the opposition it has been ever again attempted to show Hahnemanns theory-and indeed in its most form- is equivalent to homoeopathy and that the homoeopathists concur with all that Hahnemann has ever said. We have already touched upon this point repeatedly in the preceding and will hear still more about it later on. But it may be said for those who will draw their knowledge of homoeopathy only from this summarizing chapter that such an equivalence is not historically nor factually justified. The homoeopathists have left behind much of the debatable, of the obsolete in Hahnemanns doctrine.
So long as they employ drugs proven on the healthy according to the “similia similibus,” they still remain “homoeopathists.” In particular one must no longer try to pin down all modern homoeopathy, in order to have a convenient subject for whipping, to the “psora” and “high potency” both are in no way essential constituents of homoeopathy. The fact that in contrast to many earlier systems Hahnemanns doctrine still lived depends largely upon Hahnemanns idiographic orientation (See Chap. IX).
The other systems of the time perceived everything under the viewpoint of a certain theory, with whose destruction, which could not fail to come, all else that should be causally explained by this theory was drawn into the depths. Hahnemanns “pure experience” in regard to a doctrine of diseases by which he sought to conceive the entire range of all sensually perceptible manifestations without recourse to any theory and regarding the drug provings where he also attempted to stand firmly with the manifestations, brought with it the fact that great parts of his doctrine, so far as they were independent of theory, survived all changes of theory.
They are still todays facts with which one can work, the same as the facts demonstrated at that time in physics, chemistry, zoology and botany. Likewise the constancy of homoeopathy finds its explanation to a great extent in the idiographic basic trend of its nature.
We noted repeatedly and likewise it has been stressed in this summary that Hahnemann gained diversified influence on medicine; the essential of his doctrine was, however, eliminated as a foreign body. And, indeed, it actually was a foreign body for the medicine of his time. it came too early or too late. Too late when one conceives it as the after trend of natural history of the eighteenth century which, as far as the organic natural sciences are concerned, was for the organic natural sciences are concerned, was for the most part of the descriptive type.
Too early wen one remembers that the first decades of the nineteenth century were the transition years to a causal investigation of the normal and morbid manifestations on the body for which purpose the bloom of chemistry and physics in the eighteenth century had furnished the tools. With enthusiasm and the greatest expectations one began the investigations of organic nature from which one believed one could wrench its secrets with “levers and screws.”
Up to our day the mechanistically oriented investigation by most industrious detail investigation has collected an ocean of single facts in which one finally drowned since one could no longer keep abreast the flood of facts streaming in and without the compass of philosophic survey one lost the direction and crashed on the rocks of inner difficulties. It was the great time of the one- sided analyst who without need of the survey and without the endowment for synthesis was satisfied in the abundance of single facts and rejoiced in them.
Naturally this mental direction had not the least understanding for a non-dissecting, but idiographically oriented medicine and as it tends to happen, one did not understand its essentials. In that one proceeded from mechanistic presumptions held as self-evident one did not notice that the idiom of mechanism was here not sufficient and so it came to misunderstandings at that time inextricable…One simply spoke two different languages.
Where strict causal-mechanistic investigation is carried on, one does not consider the teleologic conception and overlooks the peculiarity of the living body which responds to a stimulus with a counteraction (reaction) without whose consideration homoeopathy is not comprehensible.
Only the last decades have been somewhat cooling in the enthusiasm for the solely valid mechanism, a certain disappointment and lassitude came over the minds and one saw the necessity of the synthesis, a combining view. With this an also in the new “spirit of the times” proceeding from other nutrient sources only, was an understanding for homoeopathy again possible”.
This turn from pure mechanism is found not only in the consideration of diseases of the living body of which the anatomic orientation, which-in order to employ a the anatomic orientation, which-in order to employ word of the witty Mobius- “stupefies” was supplemented by others who bring the psychic into prominence, I recall here in particular psychoanalysis. The analyzing psychology of Wundt-Ultimately a “psychology without soul”-was relieved through investigations and procedures of another type at the psychology of thinking of Kulpe, the phenomenology of Husserl and Gestalt psychology.
But even if the spirit of the times has led development of medicine i the direction of homoeopathy, still one cannot say by any means that it is generally recognized; indeed, it is striking that it is precisely the expert writers of history of medicine that still have not obtained the correct viewpoint on homoeopathy and its founder. As a symptomatic example, H. Sigerist may be mentioned. It is striking that Hahnemann, certainly “a great physician,” is mentioned only very briefly in the book Great Physicians by H. Sigerist, but is not extensively appreciated as happens with other, for example Broussais to whom a special chapter with picture is devoted for his alleged “physiologic medicine” and his “vampirism.”
Likewise Sigerist has obviously not sufficiently perceived the empirical orientation and basis of Hahnemanns doctrine. One has the impression that Sigerist does not know him sufficiently exactly. On the other hand other physicians from high watch towers obtained understanding of homoeopathy and this is no “accident”; here there exist lawfulnesses in the evolution of conceptions which lead to altered attitudes. Of these I shall mention here only Schulz, Bier, Much, and Honigmann.
A few brief citation may show how today in contrast to the decades gone by in which Hahnemann was a blockhead and a swindler, physicians at the height of our knowledge of our time judge Hahnemann.