Homeopathy: Principles of the New Medicine. Adaptation and Comments on the 6th Organon.
of Edouard Broussalian, Volume 1. Geneva, Switzerland, 2014.
by André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.
The word "organon," which comes from the Greek, means instrument, tool or organ of the body, but in the context of a treatise it means a set of principles or an instrument for understanding. The followers of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) first used the word "organon" to designate the collected work on logic of their illustrious teacher.
In 1620, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) completed the Novum Organum Scientiarum, or a new instrument of science, which was a novel system of logic supposedly superior to the one propounded by Aristotle.
It was from the same perspective that, in 1810, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann published the Organon of the Rational Healing Art, which was a set of principles for a more comprehensive and rational practice of medicine. The word "rational" refers to principles that are based on accurate observation and experimentation and on sound reasoning.
Hahnemann's Organon, which is only a blueprint for how to practice medicine, is based entirely on the fundamental principles of classical medicine. The first of these principles applies to the actor, that is, the physician, while the six others apply to the actual practice of medicine:
Physician, dare to know, and become a true philosopher and scientist but, above all, a true artist. Constant inquiry is the road to knowledge.
Prevention is better than cure. Since health results mainly from healthful living, the highest mission of the physician is to guide people to choose ways of living and environments that are conducive to good health.
Primum non nocere:
First, physician, do no harm. In spite of the best prevention, people will be affected by numerous influences and will fall sick. Any prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic intervention by the physician should not further harm the patient.
Tolle causam, cessat effectus:
Remove the cause and the effect will cease. There are causes of sickness and above all, physician, address them.
Vis medicatrix naturae:
The healing power of nature. It is neither the physician nor the treatment that heals but only the living organism. Therefore, the physician must seek to encourage this innate process by first ensuring that the conditions for life are met and, if necessary, by using the help of the various outer influences and forces of nature to enhance the recovery of health.
Nunquam pars pro toto:
Never the part but always the whole. The physician must consider the patient as a unique indivisible whole and must therefore take into consideration all the conditions of life and pertinent aspects of each individual, including the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, energetic, hereditary, sociological, lifestyle and environmental aspects.
Cito, lenis, jucunde, toto, durabile, certo, simplex et tuto curare:
The highest ideal of therapy is the rapid, gentle, pleasant, complete and permanent restoration of health in the surest, simplest and least harmful way.
On that rock solid basis, Hahnemann systematically expounds in the Organon how to practice medicine in general and homeopathy in particular. Like Bacon's Organon, it is written in numbered aphorisms, each consisting of a concise statement of a principle or sub-principle.
Hahnemann, who was an exceptionally erudite philologist and had access to some of the best medical libraries of his time, searched for truth in medicine in the most important primary sources, some dating from ancient times. Consequently the Organon contains the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years of medical knowledge and is therefore rightly considered by homeopaths to be the most important of all books on medicine. It is a book that should therefore be read and re-read time and again, for only after many years of clinical experience can it be fully understood.
Dr. Adolph Lippe of Philadelphia, who was probably Hahnemann's best student and medicine's most successful practitioner, had the greatest admiration for Hahnemann's Organon. In 1883, he said, "It is now over 50 years since I first read the Organon. I just begin to comprehend it." He advised physicians to read the Organon, as he had done, at least once a year in the first 10 years of their practice. He pointed out that Hahnemann took more than 50 years to write the Organon and that any other physician is likely to need more than 50 years of clinical practice to understand it.
In Lippe's extensive writings can be found many important passages about the Organon, such as this one: "The Organon is our textbook; in practical matters it must be looked upon as an authority by the faithful healer; it should be well studied, and will serve us as a guide if it is well understood. The student will find his first knowledge of the rational healing art in it; the earnest practitioner will find, reading it again and again, after long years of experience, that Hahnemann did not exhaust all his knowledge in this work, and frequently only showed the way to arrive at a higher art, a higher perfection, a higher development of the application of the infallible principles for the alleviation and cure of disease."
Even though Hahnemann completed the last, and sixth, edition of his Organon just before his death in 1843, it was unfortunately not published until 78 years later in 1921. In fact, we are very lucky that Hahnemann's last work, after changing hands many times in its travels through wars, and across borders and continents, has survived in its entirety. It was first taken from Paris to Germany, and was left for decades in the abandoned mansion of the Boenninghausen family estate in Darup, which was so close to the front during the First World War that both the German and the Allied forces used it on numerous occasions as headquarters.
It took Dr. Richard Haehl, one of Hahnemann's biographers, great perseverance over a period of 23 years to finally obtain in 1920 what was then called the treasure of Darup, which contained most of Hahnemann's literary legacy: his casebooks, his repertories, his original provings of medicines, a considerable number of letters, and, of course the unpublished manuscript of the sixth edition of the Organon. Once Haehl had made a copy of it for the German edition, he sent the original manuscript to Dr. William Boericke, professor of Homeopathic Materia Medica at the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF), who, with Dr. James Ward, made the significant financial contribution that finally freed Hahnemann's legacy from its long and regrettable concealment and could now begin translating it into English. Since then the manuscript has remained the property of UCSF.
Once, in 1983, when I asked to consult the manuscript in the UCSF library, a librarian simply handed it to me. After consulting it and even photocopying parts of it, of course with great care but without supervision, I walked into the office of the director of the library with the manuscript in hand and explained the enormous importance of this book to the homeopathic community. The manuscript was too precious to be handed out to any patron of the University.
The next time I visited the University, I again asked to consult the precious manuscript. On this occasion, however, I was not even allowed to touch it. A librarian wearing white gloves carried the precious book to my desk, stood beside me and turned the pages at my request. We can now be confident that the legacy Hahnemann left the world in his last and most important work will be well preserved for future generations, for it is kept in a locked cabinet in a locked room with controlled temperature and humidity.
Many prominent homeopaths have commented on parts of the Organon; among them are Drs. Adolph Lippe, Bernhardt Fincke, James Tyler Kent and Pierre Schmidt. That tradition must continue for as long as the medical knowledge and experience of the homeopathic community continue to accumulate. For homeopathy is not a static science, even though it will always remain fixed in its principles. Our materia medica and repertories will always be in a state of perpetual growth, and clinical experience will continue to clarify the best ways of applying our principles that will always be our sure guides to the true art of medicine.
It is thus not surprising that Hahnemann wrote six editions of the Organon in only 33 years. We must continue to develop homeopathy in a progressive direction, namely, toward greater clinical efficacy, and build on the work of Hahnemann and that of the great Hahnemannians. History teaches that we will be successful in our noble task as long as we abide by the strict inductive method common to all the natural sciences.
Dr. Edouard Broussalian has taken on the responsibility for providing a commentary for our current times on the Organon in its entirety. His work is informative, thorough and comprehensive, and he explains and clarifies many historical events, controversies and practical questions.
It is naturally impossible for any one author to capture completely the accumulated experience of several generations of homeopaths from around the world. Nevertheless, Dr. Broussalian has succeeded in extending the knowledge found in Hahnemann's Organon to the complexities of today's practice of medicine. Such a work is necessary for a correct understanding of homeopathy and of medicine in general. Let the discussion begin on the true art of medicine.
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May 23, 2014