It is for this reason disconcerting to find little or no mention of homeopathy in contemporary books on medical history. What references that are given are there by way of a memorial, with no vital links drawn to the present. Any past that doesn't seem to substantiate the glorious achievements of the immediate present are usually considered as quaint cul-de-sacs in history. There is but one true road, and it is the one that the elect have invariably chosen to follow. This, alas, is always the vanity of the present. On the other hand, most homeopaths believe that real medical history only begins with Samuel Christian Hahnemann. There is something more than disconcerting in all this: there is something tragically un-historic.
The spatial aspect to time consciousness alluded to above shows a distinctly westward movement that seems, to some, to have come to an end in 20th Century America, that puer aeternus of nationhood. With us, it is the forever present without past, space without depth, information without meaning, and sensation without sense. An appreciation of the importance of history is not an easily acquired taste for the peoples of the United States. This is perhaps understandable in a country whose eastcoast, physically and metaphysically, looks West, and whose westcoast, looks East.
* * *
From the beginning, Hahnemann has burdened homeopathy with what I call the Potency Question.* He gave no rationale except observational for the 'dynamization' of substance. He claimed that since all experience shows that it is so, any cognitive approach was "idle speculation". But experience without thought hardly constitutes a science. And homeopathy has been dragging this burden around for 200 years.
What I call the "Historical Question" is our burden. We must begin to find our rightful place within the general stream of medical development so as then to place ourselves with complete confidence in the living present. Actually, in this, too, I perceive a kind of Hahnemannian handicap. He continually pitted homeopathy against the evil empire, allopathy. But this confrontational Us/Them approach ultimately does disservice to both. Whether characterized as homeopathy/allopathy, empiricism/rationalism, idiographic/nomothetic, or even true/false, I find such adversarial dualisms a flawed representation of the facts on at least three counts:
1) It merely takes these alternating medical ideas as existing side-by-side in history without consideration for their container: consciousness. Because of the evolution of consciousness, there is a great deal of difference where you place ideas within time. What is true and appropriate and useful once is not always so. Even the words used to express ideas can change meaning depending on who and where and, especially, when they are spoken. The metamorphosis of consciousness is the basis for any truly historical grasp of reality. (As an example, take the understanding of disease itself: In the ancient world, to become ill was the result of sin and quilt; it was a punishment inflicted by an over-jealous divinity; or it was a test of faith [Job]. In a word, it was always personalized. The archaic mind saw in the cause and cure of disease the connecting hand of the sacred. There was no separation, no discontinuity; worlds interpenetrated. Who today sees in disease the result of such divine intervention? Only the pharisaically anachronistic! Viewing disease or even health in this way today is considered teleologically whiggish. And rightly so.)
2) A primal bifurcation severely limits the field of action. Who's to say that it's so simple? The desire to single out and hate one enemy is really an eskewed form of self-admiration. What is true is that history is replete with Spranglerian argumentation that have now outlived their usefulness -instead of dialogue, today's world asks for multilogue. But not in the trivial sense that everything is the same, but only in the sense that there are perhaps many roads to Rome. (Just off hand, I can think of seven: Allopathic, Homeopathic, Naturopathic, Anthroposophical, Auryvedic, and Eastern and Western herbal.) Besides, this wider, pluralistic view of medicine has profound and quite provocative legal consequences. Rather than 'the profession of medicine', I prefer the less restrictive 'the professions of medicine'.
3) Dichotomy denies the contributions that each has had on the other. There is a likewise larger perspective here best illustrated by the popular myth of the Olympian god, Asklepios' two bickering daughters, Hygieia and Panaceia. The latter is clearly the path of medicine and healing; the former of health maintained. The second deals the the art of cure; the first with the art of living well. It is obvious that homeopathy falls squarely within the parameters of the second daughter's world: "The highest and only mission..." Except for paragraph 4 of the Organon, the eugenic implications of miasms, certain suggestions for the treatment of the insane and a few cautionary remarks about diet, Hahnemann was fairly cavalier about all the rest. This is not meant as a criticism or even as a limitation, but only to qualify and to give perspective.
On the other hand, I do not deny the relevance of polarity for the knowing perception of reality. It is part of the spiritual legacy of humanity, East and West. However, to identify one's personality polarically is an intellectual failing. Polarity is valid in the process of cognition, only. Besides, the usual horizontal tensions need deepening by another axis, the axis of history.
Thus, the question remains: Where does homeopathy find itself within the stream of time? After almost 200 years, can it begin to realize the historical significance of its own reality?
The following survey comes from a very specific, soon to emerge, point of view. The attempt is to place homeopathy within a general world-historical context. Not everything chronological will be portrayed: huge blocks of time will be truncated to fit my theme; entire centuries will be telescoped into a sentence. This is the unavoidable consequence of space. It is up to the good will of the reader to fill in the many missing details.
"Sing, goddess, the wrath of Archilleus..."
What is called Western civilization owes its inception to the righteous indignation felt by the Achaians for the peace-loving, Eastern peoples of Troy. And the late returning of Odysseus from Ilion reads like a heroic rite of passage, an initiation into egoity: it was only after being re-united with his wife, Penelope, that the intrepid protagonist smiled, laughed and wept. Then, in the 5th Century B.C. , the age of Pericles, the actual burgeoning of Greek cultural life occurs, and with this the beginnings of what is now called clinical, observational medicine. Before Hippocrates and Alcmaeon of Croton, healing had to do with the 'temple sleep', and with the administrations of local deities within the Mystery Centers. But now, especially with the sage of Cos, medicine became factual and more biographically based. A positivistic interpretation has always portrayed this as the 'scientific secularization' of the ancient religious traditions, either Olympic, Dionysiac or Orphic. But this is not entirely accurate as even the open lines of the famous Oath indicate. Rather than replacing the old, there was a shift of emphasis: the worship of supernature became the worship of nature, the physis. It was said that the god of medicine, Asklepios, learned the art of healing from the centaur, Cheiron. Hippocrates, by his name alone, indicates the still cultism nature of Greek medicine, as his name translates: 'the one who gives reins to the horse.' (Hahnemann, more than two thousand years later, was similarly aptly named, 'Hahn', the rooster.)
Both Plato and Aristotle affirmed that the medical relationship was an 'iatrification of philia', or friendship. The physician was motivated to help by a love of the ideal living within the patient. "Where there is philanthropia, there is philotechnia." This was not, however, inconsistent with their notions of caste, as the human ideal must ultimately serve the needs of the polis. The Hippocratic Asklepiads, therefore, reserved their often pedagogic therapy for the rich and the free. Treatment of the poor and the slave was administered by the empirics (empeiros), whose rough-and-ready methods were derived secondhand from observations of the other's technique. The roots of what is now called empiricism thus goes back to the treatment apportioned to the poor and the slave in pre-Hellenistic Greece. (Interesting?!)
* * *
The Greek impulse comes to an end in Romanism. The dogma of Galen of Pergamum, a kind of humoral herbalism, dominated Western medicine throughout much of what history calls the Middle Ages. Much of Greek learning disappears into the Arabian stream (re: Avicenna), only to re-appear later, transformed by Scholasticism. Compared to the Middle and Far East, life in Europe at this time may well be characterized as 'dark'.
Any real medical know-how was quietly preserved within the monastic orders.
The salubrious influence of Christianity on this period cannot be overlooked. In important ways, it represented a decided advancement on the non-egalitarian Greek. Instead of philia, a specialized form of eros, you get caritas, or agape. Instead of friendship, which is conditional, you now get an all-embracing neighborliness. Instead of the abstract 'man is sacred' (res sacra homo), you come to the specific instance where 'each man is sacred' (res sacra unusquisque homo). Proper medical treatment is no longer limited to the free and the Greek, but is extended, through Christian charity, to the slave and the barbarian alike. And not only this: the incurable, the permanently disabled, and the dying were to be considered worthy of the same care afforded those who could still participate, regardless of their affliction, in society. The injunctions -"love thy neighbor as thyself " and "love thy enemy"- motivated much that distinguished the chivalric Knights Templars, whose symbol became the Red Cross, and the Hospitallers.
Centuries before the Cartesians, a division occurs between the physical and spiritual welfare of the patient. Lacking the technical ability of the Greek and the Arab, disease becomes a 'trial by ordeal' (in nomine Domini), wherein to succor the soul becomes the charitable office and duty of the medieval physician. To suffer was to glorify God; to heal was often purely miraculous. Within the feeling-life to begin with, a rift in consciousness had begun, inspired by the Church, that was to philosophically characterize a later humanity. The practice of pastoral medicine originates from this period.
* * *
History is not always the linear cause-and-effect process usually portrayed. Sometimes there are complete jumps. Just as the flower cannot be anticipated in the leaf, so there are times when change is totally unanticipated and portentous; where, like an incision, little of what went before can be found in what came after. Such an incision into history was the 15th Century. It was the irrevocable ending of something and the precipitous beginning of something with which humanity as a whole is still very much concerned. More like a Revolution than a Renaissance, nothing could have sufficiently prepared, what soon came to be called, Europe for this experience.
In 1440, a mathematician and bishop of the Church, Nicolas of Casa, published a book, Doctor Ignorantia (The Learned Ignorance), in which he claimed that human intelligence, no matter how comprehensive, was incapable of penetrating the mysteries of universal space. Just one hundred years latter, almost to the date (1543), Nicolas Copernicus published De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of Heavenly Bodies) in which he fixed, as a mathematical proposition, the movements of the planets, including the earth, in orbits around the sun. Prior to this, all heavenly bodies, including the sun and the stars, moved within Ptolemaic crystalline spheres with the earth at the center. This transition from the geocentric to the heliocentric conception of the solar system signaled a totally new psychological orientation to reality that is impossible to exaggerate. Prior to the 1500's, humanity still felt itself instinctively woven into the spiritual fabric of the universe. The planetary spheres were divinely arranged and inhabited by the gods and goddesses of antiquity. The earth, on the other hand, was quite indefinite: the frontiers of the world seemed to disappear somewhere off at the edges. Then, by the 16th Century, with the great voyages of discovery -first claiming the 'new world' and, later, circumnavigating the entire globe -the earth begins to assume a quite definite configuration, and the heavens, by contrast, become quite indefinite: a vast emptiness, with bits of concrete (planets) arcing around, and held together, with Newton, by nothing more occult than gravitation forces.
Action at a distance had been a problem since the Greeks. Aristotle, already speaking with considerable abstraction, claimed that that which moved on its own was a being endowed with soul. The planets and stars were obviously observed to move and were thus beings of soul. With the 15th Century, however, this attempt to live into experience, to endow it with soul, comes to an abrupt end. And it is difficult, after almost 500 years of scientific development, to appreciate the tremendous shock this new way of seeing, inaugurated in science by astronomy, but quickly carried over into other fields, had on the humanity at that time. We literally see here a great leap in consciousness -a New Age -what Owen Barfield characterized as the staggering transition from the previous participatory consciousness of the ancient world to the on-looker consciousness of today. It is important to understand that the humanity prior to the 1500's was entirely different from the humanity that came later. (It is particularly important to appreciate this difference with regards the history of medicine.)
Galileo Galilei is often called the father of science. Standing in the Cathedral of Pisa, clocking the swing of the lamp over the altar and formulating in the process the isochronal movement of the pendulum, he represents, as no other at that time, this transition from participation to on-looker. Fixing his invented telescope, that great instrument, along with the microscope, of the on-looker consciousness, on that heavenly body, the Earth's Moon, and on the moons of Jupiter, he has the temerity to claim literalness to Copernicus' hypothesis, and almost loses his life in the process to the Inquisition. (Later scientists, informed by Galileo's example, established a tacit agreement with the Church to disconnect the concerns of science and religion, knowledge and faith.) Furthermore, Galileo is one of the first to propose the partitioning of experience into primary and secondary qualities: the first representing the extended, quantifiable motions of 'matter' (atoms, as they have come to be called); the second, and supposedly predicated on the first, all that we experience of the world as human beings -that is, color, taste, sound, smell, etc. This was later dogmatized by John Locke in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and is the modus operandi of most contemporary scientific inquiry. (Parallel to this development -actually prefiguring it by many decades with Giotto -was the early achievements of the Quattrocento painters of the Apennine peninsula who succeeded in rendering three dimensional space on the two dimensional surface of the canvas or wall. They, too, were impassioned by the newer spatial considerations and to all that can be found in this space -that is, things. From here you soon come to landscape painting and to still life, and to all the formal concerns of 20th Century art -modernism, post-modernism and post-post-post.)
* * *
Medicine maps a somewhat similar trajectory with the publication in 1543 of Andrea Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Concerning the Fabric of the Human Body). It is not merely facetious nor trivial to say that modern medicine begins with the corpse. The first year naturopathic, allopathic, chiropractic, osteopathic (and homeopathic?) medical school begins with gross anatomy, with the dissection of the corpse. Here, too, a tremendous change had occurred between the ancient world-view and the post-1500's. Previously, post mortems were perfunctorily performed, but as a source of real knowledge, this 'art of the barbers' was considered beneath the dignity of any self-respecting physician of the Middle Ages. One has only to look at the frontal piece of Vesalius's book, where all eyes are trained on the corpse, to see what a enormous shift in consciousness occurs just during this period. From an ancient humoral approach, which included not only the terrestrial, but water, air and warmth, and all the celestial movements of the planets and the sun and the stars, colonized by assorted angels and archangelic beings, one comes down finally to the anatomy of the corpse. This is a complete reversal of psychological perspective that is, again, impossible to exaggerate. Medical science begins with the corpse.
And with the post mortem examination, structural abnormalities are observed in the different organs as a result of disease processes. In the 1600's, the Florentine, Benivieni, sometimes called the father of pathological anatomy, was the first person to be given the unprecedented authorization to perform necroscopic examinations by the Church. (Although, being a simple empiricist, he wondered how such knowledge would enable the physician to treat more effectively.) The Englishman, William Harvey, published De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in 1643. This seminal work on the circulation of blood practically ended Galenism. Harvey was a first-rate anatomist himself. While most of Versalius' bodies had been condemned criminals (and some, no doubt, surreptiously disinterred), Harvey insisted that "the examination of a single body of one who has died of some disease of long standing is of more service to medicine than the dissection of ten men who have been hanged."
An incredible enthusiasm for post mortum examinations developed among physicians at this time; a veritable celebration of dismemberment, supported by the development of all the paraphernalia that now makes up the modern, medical laboratory: the microscope, scalpel, formaldehyde, stains, stethoscope, etc. The Italian, Malpigni, is credited as the founder of histology (tissue changes). In 176l, another Italian, Morgagni, publishes a book which was to set the standard for pathological research in the future, making the correlation between clinical details and gross anatomical revelations so substantial: the finding in the organs and tissues of the body of the 'footprints' of disease. In the 18th century, the Frenchman, Bichat, was to put histology even more directly at the service of pathology: "Dissection in anatomy, experiment in physiology, follow the disease and make the necropsy. This is the threefold path, without which there can be no anatomist, no physiologist, no physician."
But the real accolade to anatomy must go to Carl Rokitansky, who, in the early 19th Century, performed over 70,000 autopsies! A formidable proceduralist, his desire was to finally establish all disease types on a purely structural basis. After Rokitansky, disease names were to convey to any trained person a real anatomical picture. Later in that century, Rudolf Virchow published his book on cellular pathology, ending any last vestiges of humoral vitalism; and Claude Bernard publishes his methodological book, Experimental Medicine, where "one and the same determinism must govern the stone in the road and the brain of man."
What we see in the above is a development that has come down from the heavens and into the corpse, finding there in the organs to begin with the seat of illness in the body. As the process gains further sophistication and momentum, from diseased organs you come to diseased tissues, and from diseased tissues you come to diseased cells, and from diseased cells, in the 20th Century, you come to the mysterious intra-cellular, colloidal emulsions, to molecular biology, and to DNA and genetics. We see an un-interrupted procession of technological triumphs in a straight line down from the world of Galen and the 4 humors, from the celestial mechanics of Ptolemy and a world-supporting spirituality of instinctive grandeur, down into the sub-world processes of modern medical exegesis that mirrors a development that has taken place in physics: reductionism. From the whole you come down to the part (which seems to subsist, not entirely harmoniously, in a different scale of reality), and from the mere conglomeration of these parts, each themselves becoming more and more splintered and atomized, you construct a hypothetical bridge back to the human. It is a process that is as philosophically dubious as it is technologically prodigious.
* * *
Over the academies of learning in the ancient world was inscribed the injunction: "Those ignorant of Geometry needn't enter herein." This warning was not merely pedantic, but was actually descriptive of the way humanity at that time took in knowledge: Not by precept nor by excogitation alone, but through the sensory receptivity of the whole body. Then, mathematics, or mathesis, was not separated-out and abstracted from the living human being as it has become since the 15th Century. With Copernicus, and especially with Descartes and Newton, mathematics and geometry have taken on a so-called a priori status: that is, torn out of the inner human experience of the above/down, right/left and front/back, the coordinates of differential geometry, for instance, may be traced quite arbitrarily in space; and, equally, the mass of any given object within that space makes no difference to the observing human being -separated from the subject, they are designated as objective, real-world facts. Emmanuel Kant even went so far as to claim 'scientific' only those fields of inquiry into which mathematics had firmly inserted itself. It has since become the standard of agnostic certainty.
But this was not always the way humanity came to knowledge. Mathematics and geometry were experience from within and were deeply related to the still more ancient injunction: "know thyself ". What was once inside and experienced as one's own corporeality has now, with the scientific revolution of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries, been projected outside and been granted the status of objective knowledge. And what was once outside -that is, a world full of colors, sounds and smells as revelations of an objective World-Spirit -have been thrust back somewhere into the human psyche and further vilified as 'merely subjective.' Here we see, as an ironic expression of the evolution of consciousness, a complete reversal of the inner and the outer, of the secondary and primary, and of what has come to be called, the subjective and objective. It is a development, occurring over the course of time, of the conviction that weighing, counting and measuring yields a primary reality to the tone, color and warmth of phenomena which are only subjective experiences and, further, given to error. It is a complete reversal of psychological orientation paralleling the developments in medicine chronicled above, and a fair characterization of much of what is considered science today.
These observations are the consequence of history taken in its longest and broadest perspective. They are not the observations of the moment which would lead to relativity and scepticsm. In this context, science (in which is contained the seeds of an incipient spirituality) does not seek the hypothesis for its own sake but, by observing nature, to awaken consciousness -not merely as a need to know but as an historical need to become fully human, to become free. The spiritually-rich, but dreamy consciousness of the past has had to be replaced by capacities sharpened in the disciples of mathematics, mechanics and an overly attentive curiosity. The life in nature had to be killed, as with Versalius' corpse, by the freely-employed but dessicated concepts of modern science. The soundless, colorless, odorless, tasteless, untouchable world of the atom, and even all the abstract, statistical analyzes of the organic sciences, as faulty and feeble-minded as they are, are still symptomatic of this need to awaken within the world.
* * *
Samuel Christian Hahnemann's rather long and productive life (1755-1843) spanned an equally long and productive period in the intellectual history of the West. By the beginning of the 18th Century, the vitalism of Paracelsus and von Helmont (the Archeus) and the animism of Stahl had begun to give way to a more mathematical- mechanical view of things. Just before Hahnemann was born, La Mettrie published his L'homme machine, (Man, the Machine) in 1748. Very soon after that, the macrocosmic life of the heavens became the clockwork arrangement we find it today with the work of Kant-LaPlace. Electro-magnetic theory kept apace, beginning in the early 1800's to postulate hidden forces at work within matter, with Oerstad, Ohm, Cavendish and, later, Faraday and Maxwell. In 1824, Carnot formulated, at first clumsily, the second law of thermodynamics, and, shortly after that, Mayer and Joule separately discover the mechanical equivalence of heat. In 1828, Wahler's synthesis of urea undermines the last vestiges of vitalistic chemistry; and chemistry itself, a late bloomer among the sciences (psyche/ soma were still intimately intertwined throughout much of the 1700's), took a decidedly materialistic-atomistic turn with Prestley and Boyle, Dalton and Lavoisier. It was truly a synchronicity in history that these two individuals, Hahnemann and Dalton, were coming at substance from entirely different directions just during the same decades and in the same city, Paris. Hahnemann began to describe the dynamic, non-material action of medicines (das inmaterielle) as early as 1799.
There are some, even within homeopathy, who would portray Hahnemann (who may have originally encouraged the notion) as a totally anomalous eccentric, an outsider, a medical maverick. The history of this period is read as a single-minded attempt to exorcise from science, as with a great taboo, all that which was interpreted as being opaque to counting, weighing and measuring. Hahnemann's untimely trumpeting forth of a spirit-like, vital force (Geistartege, Lebenskraft), and his insistence on the totality of the outwardly cognizable symptoms (der Gesamtheit der Symptome), is viewed as a kind of Promethean struggle against all odds. But this is contradicted by the actual milieu in which he wrote: German Idealism. Granted that the focus, especially in the inorganic sciences, was more and more directed to the quantitative aspect to the exclusion of the whole, and that Hahnemann was beginning to ask physicians to move with as much certainty and lucidity within the so-called subjective realm of qualities as mathematics had learned to move within magnitudes, it must not be forgotten that he was a contemporary of Goethe, Schiller and Novalis, to whom he may have owed some of the musical metaphors employed in the Organon.
The reader is undoubtedly familiar with Hahnemann's experience with Peruvian bark, and of how this original intuition was eventually elaborated into the homeopathic methodology of the Organon. In the process, he also defined what homeopathy was not. William Cullen and John Brown of Edinburgh, Scotland, (and Benjamin Rush, the only physician to sign the Declaration of Independence in the USA) represented the prevailing theory de jour in medicine at the end of the 1700's. This speculative (allopathic) school of medicine was shaped by the proliferating mechanical notions of physics and by a rigid, corporeal causality. For Hahnemann, however, the practice of medicine consisted of not only the manner in which medicaments were prescribed, but, equally, it consisted of the view taken of the patient's malady as a whole, as was made explicit in paragraph 13. For, epistemologically speaking, allopathic medicine is a rather naive relating of therapy to pathology (despite all the more recent technological sophistications of both), and Hahnemann was more concerned with how the physician comes to know the patient in the first place, and on what basis that conception is formed; and then, and only then, as to how therapy was to be applied. For Hahnemann, medical therapy consisted of the cognitive taking-in of the other, of a perception imbued with intelligence, of what Goethe would have called, rational empiricism.
Many currents and cross-currents intersect at the end of the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th Century. The Enlightenment had already reached its high-water mark, and yet a hermetic Neo-Platonism still ebbed and flowed within the drier humanism. Hahnemann himself was a mason (there was a great deal of difference between European masonry at that time and British masonry whose influence so deeply molded this country), and many of the early American homeopaths were Swedenborgean. We look with futility for the sources of today's scientific medical thought in the tumultuous changes occurring everywhere at that time. I have tried to trace the roots back earlier to the 15th Century, to the beginning of the New Age. Important in this context was the often hidden influence of the Rosicrucian physicians whose post-Renaissance ideal was the educational perfection of humanity. This ideal has worked so deeply into the historical process that today humanity stands at a kind of threshold: under the tutelage of centuries of sharpened yet dispassionate consciousness, the scientific-spirit may now mark what limits to world-knowing as only coincident to self-knowing. Dualism is overcome: Cognition becomes a spirit-like (Geistartege) 'organ of perception'.
* * *
Yet another symptom of the emancipation of the individual from the nature matrix was Freud's decisive break with Charcot concerning the medical understanding of hysteria in 1886. With Charcot, mental illnesses were traced back in some way to pathological anatomy. The patient was thus an object among objects in the natural world. And medicine was the objective study of diseases as they stood revealed in this world. With Freud, however, the focus was directed back to the subject to whom disease always held a personal, albeit neurotic, meaning. It was an inner path, a path more dependent on verbal clues, where the visual object, the patient, claimed the importance of its own subjectivity. Instead of encountering the body-from-without, you get a body speaking for itself; and instead of the experience of 'what is in me', you come to the experience of 'what is mine', clinically and pathogenetically remaining faithful to the maxim that "every case is a case". This has been called 'the rebellion of the subject' by historians. Of course, homeopaths know that this rebellion was anticipated by Hahnemann -always insisting on the expressible, dispositional and/or idiosyncratic symptoms -by almost a century!
Mathematics predominates the sciences of the external world; language, of the psyche. That is: the psyche must be heard. Although sight is a metaphor for perception in general, hearing comes from a deeper place in the sensory universe than does seeing. Vision gives only the surface of things, but when things speak they yield forth their interior. When the body is perceived from outside, and its measure thus taken, it is actually the visual aspect of touch, movement and balance that is operative; when the psyche is perceived with whatever sense, it is always heard. Under the influence of the psychoanalytical
Logos mathematics: nature -language: psyche school, words have come to have merely associative meanings. But there lives within language itself, within the expressive and conceptual aspect of language, what philosophy calls the wholly other. And, polarically, we have seen how, within the historical process, and within the encounter with measure, weight and number, the individual ego first awakens. These two antipodal experiences stand in mutual relation to one another. Today's arcanum of molecular biology and genetics is still the exterior world to the indwelling psyche. Charcot was fond of saying: "je ne suis qu'un visuel." But human life is unthinkable without interiority. Here I am reminded of the words of Blake: "We are led to Believe a Lie, When we see with not Thro' the Eye." (It is said that we wear a mask of personality. We see this personality, this counterfeit of individuality, gleaming back at us from all the covers of popular magazines. And at the other pole, the technological, we find ourselves reduced to a cipher, a statistic, a commonality, where all the qualities of our existence have been stripped and serialized like a bar code. In a world teetering this way and that, we seek now a balance in the irreducible experience of ourselves. Biographically, every individual is a species unto themselves. This is one of the therapeutic affirmation of Hahnemannian homeopathy.)
* * *
I have sometimes pictured homeopathy as a kind of therapeutic open door. Thus: through this door have walked, stumbled and sauntered innumerable protagonists, jugglers and mimes, some obstreperously disavowing, with the same apostolic verve, any connection with the master. The point is: a door, and that it is open. Although, in the Organon, the fundamental principles appear to have been laid out with an exhortative epistemological rigor in 294 numbered paragraphs (and even though the last two seem to abrogate the previous 292), homeopaths themselves -always an independent lot! -have come to this door from as many different direction as there are homeopaths. This is intrinsic to the art of medicine. Every homeopath must bring to the rather 'rococo' irregularities of the actual clinical situation individual capacities that would be impossible to impose from outside. Every homeopath, every day, thus adds two or three hundred more paragraphs to the pageless book of homeopathy. Not in the sense of amended theory but of added experience.
Hahnemann grew up in Meissen, Germany, 25 kilometers north of Drysden, went to school in Leipzig, and published his first article, "Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs, with a Few Glances at Those Hitherto Employed" in Hufeland's (a friend of Geothe's), Journal der practischen Arzneykunde in 1796. Spreading outward from Central Europe in all direction from the end of the 18th Century onwards, homeopathy has enjoyed the patronage of some (individuals and countries), but more often the enmity of the many who perceived in homeopathy a threat to the philosophical and/or economic hegemony of their position. Like the imperious Church orthodoxy of the Middle Ages, the apothecary guilds, in league with the state, hounded Hahnemann throughout Europe; and, towards the end of his life, this quintessentially German mind settled, by default and by marriage to Melanie d'Hervilly-Gohier, a woman 45 years younger (!), in Paris in 1835.
Regardless of the pro and con, homeopathy has now stood in the world for almost 200 years.
Every day, thousands of homeopaths around the world prescribe 'dynamized' medicines to the often lasting benefit of their patients. With only a minimum of good will, the outer aspect of this situation can be easily verified: simply ask a cross-section of any homeopath's clientele. For, ultimately, it is the patients who have kept homeopathy alive and well as a viable alternative all these years. This is the outer aspect. But the question arises: what kind of activity is it, really, from the inside, as it were? That is: how does homeopathy, if it could, represent itself to itself?
All along, I have characterized homeopathy as belonging to the West, to a Western consciousness. Recently, some attempts have been made to orientalize, kabbalize, shamanize and computerize something that is essentially unlike these both in origin and spirit. Hahnemann himself, like a fish in water, would not have spoken of that which he lived from within. But the fact is: Hahnemann evolved the entire contents of homeopathy just a few hundred kilometers from the poetically-charged world described by von Eschenbach about a millennium before but which had, since then, entirely permeated, like water the fish, Central European consciousness. For it has seemed to me, clearly, that homeopathy is, in the image of itself, a Parzivalean Science.
Deeply connected to the more familiar Celtic Arthurean Stream, the European Grail Quest introduced the element of time (chronicity) into soul development, as the word, grail, besides its other meanings as a source of nourishment and healing, is related to the Latin, gradualis, or gradual. It is a path of knowledge through compassion. Once attained, though, the Grail becomes all things to all people individually; but not, happily, at the expense of community. Besides the great masterworks' of Chrestien de Troyes and Wolfran von Eschenbach, the troubadours of France and England, and the German 'Minnesinger', spread the stories of the Grail Quest in castle and village, manorhouse and marketplace, wherein was related the courtly adventures of noble men and women -Parzival and Condwiramurs, Gawan, Arthur and Guinevere, Galahad, Launcelot, and the Lady of the Lake -and of their tender loves and valiant struggles, wherein the term 'knight' was to became synonymous with courageous gallantry. Their song and picture-making activity inspired, exoterically, generations of striving humanity in their pursuit of what was then deemed the Ideal. Today, their stories must be raised to another level.
At the beginning of the legendry epic, Parzival is called the innocent fool -Hahnemann refers to the unprejudiced observer (vorurteilsfreie Beobachter) in paragraph 6 -and only later, after 16 books of adventures, does he realize that the wounded Anfortas, whose pain-racked body has become like an attentive ear, is really, as the Grail King, his own double, and hears at last his own true name, 'piercing thru the vale'. With compassion, every homeopath may also gain this capacity to know when to ask of the wounded: "What ails thee?"
Perhaps I should postscriptively apologize for the isolated and aphoristic quality to this essay. Space necessitated brevity, and I had to optimistically relying on the reader to have met me more than half-way at this point. Let me at least summarize the contents somewhat as follows:
1) that history gives evidence to an evolution of consciousness; that not only as to its content but that the actual form or configuration of consciousness has changed over time. As a sign of this: the instinctive reliance on revelation and authority has been replaced by the conviction of the senses and by thinking about experience. In terms of the practice of medicine, speaking very broadly and, again, aphoristically, an ancient elemental holism has been superseded by a cognitive holism; that is, by the Idea of holism itself.
2) that an awakened consciousness is connected to the experience of death: that is, the living spirit has withdrawn and abstract concepts have replaced a 'living into' nature so that humanity could attain independent moral freedom; that, as a result, our relationship to the cosmos -as much as to the Earth -has changed over the course of time, and that we have become world hermits in space, no longer looking up into a vast panorama of spiritual beings but staring blankly into an emptiness from which some hope to at least find beings (aliens?) somewhat similar to themselves.
3) that homeopathy is a product of time; that is, it could not have appeared, as it is today, before 1500. Just as it requires the deliverance of the individual from the motherwomb of existence, similarly, the individual, once arrived, cannot be removed without impunity from the clinical situation. Homeopathy, therefore, is an encounter of ego with ego, where a contextual knowledge assures that therapy is laced with destiny-consequence both for the patient and the homeopath. In this context, it is equally true to say that the homeopath is there for the patient as it is to say that the patient is there for the homeopath. The sick (likely) will recover and leave, but what the homeopath has (hopefully) learned in the exchange will be of benefit to the future. ("Life is short, but Art is long." Hippocrates)
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It is natural to use spatial analogies when speaking of time. It is the effort to explain the more mysterious by the less, the antecedent by the subsidiary. To perceive space, a physical body is required as the locus of dimensionality; to perceive time, the Imagination.
Janus, double-faced, front and back, was the Roman guardian-god of portals and doors, of entrances and exits. Janus-like, every moment is thus an edge of time, wherein the past ripens and the future lies curled like a seed. Janus-like, it is up to history to continually re-present this past to the future.
May the spirit of this door, this moment, become for homeopathy in all ways a...Terminus a quo. (New Beginning).
* For a phenomenological study of the subject, see the author's "Potentization and the Well-nigh Spiritual."
Robert Stewart, R.S. Hom.(N.A. )
Woodstock, New York