Different Editions of Organon of Medicine

Organon7Dr Achamma Lenu Thomas

The content of the Organon may be arranged under four divisions though they do not occur in the order in which they are given here. But if one goes through the whole of Organon then, he finds that the subject consists of –
1. Discoveries – experimental propositions or the result of actual experiment.
2. Directions or Instructions.
3. Theoretical and Philosophical illustrations.
4. Defenses and accusations.

1. Discoveries & Propositions
In “Organon” experience is not referred for the purpose of lauding any individual remedy, far more, it has relation to an entire method of cure. Every doctrine is evolved on the basis of experience to make this science complete. Homoeopathy is a science – a science that treats of the effect of a diversity of substances upon the human frame.

Many discoveries and propositions like Classification of diseases, Drug proving treatment and cure of chronic diseases, one sided diseases, Mental diseases, Intermittent diseases, Drug dynamizations etc. are mentioned in Organon, which are the result of experiments and observations. It is worth noting that the fact that most of these discoveries and propositions have modified which speaks for itself. Alterations and modifications hay been incorporated wherever the necessity was felt or where never observations an inferences demanded.

The Doctrine that dilutions or potencies are capable of curing diseases according to the law, “Similia Similibus Curantur”, is a proposition which belongs to biology, and then finds its confirmation, it likewise or only be investigated by experiment, and cannot be estimated without it.

2. Directions or Instructions
Under this heading can be enumerated directions for examination of the sick, for the preparation of medicines for trying then on the healthy subject, for the selection of the remedies, dietetics and directions for the psychical treatment.

3. Illustrations
Hahnemann has appended certain theories to the laws of nature discovered by him by which these laws are illustrated and brought into unison with other laws already acknowledged, or with other theories received as true. Hahnemann has supported his Lay and Doctrines with many illustrations drawn from nature and from various journals and books. He quotes extensively, from ancient as well as his contemporary medical mythological and other authors in support of his views. He proceeds further to elaborate the system in details and the principles of treatment as well as the remedies to cure the natural diseases. It is one of the best and most logical approaches to make one’s statement more comprehensive and acceptable.

4. Defenses & Accusations
The storm of anger and opposition that broke over Hahnemann and Homoeopathy was the very worst atmosphere for the calm and dispassionate enquiry, which he eagerly desired. In such situations Hahnemann has defended himself and Homoeopathy at various places in Organon and has also criticized and accused the wrongful methods used at that time for treatment. Out, the entire polemical part may be stricken out, without in the slight degree changing the principal matters or without having any influence either to ratify invalidate the doctrine itself.

In first four editions, Hahnemann had in several places spoken rather slightingly of the vital force and its influences on the production and cure of disease, but the expressions are greatly modified in the fifth edition. In last two editions “Vital Force’— “Vital Principle” occupies quite a different and a much more important position in regard to disease, its causes and cure. The doctrine of drug-dynamization of medicines by processes peculiar to homoeopathy, which had only been hinted at in previous editions, is in the fifth edition distinctly stated. The directions for repetitions of doses are also different from those in previous editions.

Medicines were to be administered o healthy individuals & a record should be maintained of the symptoms, which they produced. A given substance was then to be cured to treat the patient whose symptoms were identical with the symptom-pattern developed in the proving of this substance. This interpretation of the traditional Empirical principle of “cure through similars” was called by Hahnemann the “Law of similars” and was thenceforth the basis of Homoeopathic practice.

The Therapeutic Law of Nature as stated in Aphorism 26 (in the 5 and 6 edition) can be traced back to 1796, when in his ‘Essay on a New Principle “ Hahmnemann stated-“We should imitate the nature which sometimes cures a chronic disease by super adding another and, employ in the (especially chronic) disease we wish to cure, that medicine which is able to produce another very similar artificial disease and the former will. be cured.”

This also shows how the idea of Modus Operandi of Homoeopathic cure developed in his later works. In the same ‘Essay…” we can see the birth of this conception of Primary and Secondary Actions of Medicine. He says- “Most medicine has more than one action – the first a direct action which gradually changes into the second (which I called the indirect secondary action). The latter in generally a state exactly the opposite of the former. It may be almost considered an axiom that the symptom of the secondary action are the exact opposite of those of the direct action.”

Hahnemann’s object in attenuating medicines was not the same in the early and middle part of his life as it was in his declining years. In the later year, he had in view, the transference of the properties of medicine from the medicinal substance to the alcohol, or the sugar of milk, the separation of the quantities of matter from the substance in which they inhered, or, to use his own words, “The spiritualization of the dynamic properties”, the unveiling and vivifying of the medicinal spirit, the increase and exaltation of the strength of the medicine, in order that might cause in the healthy and cure the sick, when undynamised medicines would fail for want of power.

Hahnemann’s conception of doses and diminution of quantities, as seen in Organon was expressed for the first time in ‘What are Poisons? What are Medicines?’- An essay, published in 1806. Here he observes that poisons differ from medicines only in quantity. A substance such as table salt, innocuous and even healthy in small amounts, can become poisonous if consumed in larger quantities. And a substance such as arsenic is toxic even in small doses, loses its toxicity and reveals. medicinal qualities if taken in an infinitesimal dose. The strongest poisons, in Hahnemann’s view, make the best remedies precisely for their inherent ability to exert an effect on the Organism.

From the earliest days and throughout the whole of his medical career, Hahnemann paid the great attention to the question of using cold water in cases of illness. This fact needs more emphasis, since the water healing process has fallen into strong disfavor, when Hahnemann appeared and had only a few supporters amongst the physicians of that time.From the “Directions for curing old sores “ in 1784, it can be seen what extensive use he made of the different methods of applying water. In his later life and to the end of his medical career he esteemed very highly the effect of water. In the Sixth edition of the “Organon” he describes it as a valuable “homoeopathic auxiliary remedy’ in the treatment of the sick and convalescent.

Hahnemann never ceased to observe and to test and the later editions of the Organon. It contain a good deal of additional matter embodying his later experience but nothing that conflicts with the essential principles laid down in first editions. Especially he came to develop views concerning the origin of chronic diseases and the best method of treating them homeopathically which modify some of the paragraphs here set forth and added a good deal of fresh material.

“Organon” exhibits a passionate desire for exact and clear statements. Indeed Hahnemann’s desire for clarity leads him into repetition. But throughout it is clear in thought, arduously painstaking and full of conviction yet moderate and argumentative. No unprejudiced person can rise from its perusal without a respect for Hahnemann and to what is true of Organon in this respect.

Although, in Organon, the fundamental principles appear to have been laid out with an exhortative epistemological rigor in 294 aphorisms (in 5 edition), homoeopaths themselves always an independent lot – have come to this door from as many different directions as there are homoeopaths. This is intrinsic to the art of medicine. Every homoeopath brings varieties and irregularities of real-life and actual clinical situations in individual capacities that would be impossible to impose or teach them in a general way. Every homoeopath, every day thus adds many more aphorisms to the pageless book of homoeopathy of course not in the sense of amended theory but of added experience.

In his ‘Essay on a new Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs. .‘, he had merely shown the external framework, or the corner stone of his convictions. In his Fragmenta de viribus ….‘, he had collated a number of experimental provings of medicines. In his ‘Medicine of Experience’ and in the smaller and larger other treatises he had carried his investigations further. But in the ‘ Organon’, his methodically constructed work on ‘rational healing’ or on the ‘healing art’ in general; he brought all this to completion.

The Organon may in time be widely recognized as one of the most important books in the entire history of medicine because it introduces in the long story of man’s struggle against disease, a successful system of medicinal therapy that contrasts radically with everything previously taught and practiced.

Dr Achamma Lenu Thomas. BHMS,MD(Hom)
Medical Officer, Dept. of Homoeopathy, Govt. of Kerala

Published by


CEO Asso Prof. Govt.Homeopathic Medical College. Calicut