Misinterpretation of certain teachings of Hahnemann

Dr J N Kanjilal

Hahnemann, we all know, was an exceptionally meticulous linguist and each word in all his writings and particularly in the Organon, was most carefully selected and placed. We know further that, that often he replaced many words, phrases, sentences and even paragraphs in the successive editions of the Organon, in order to make his meanings more correct, more direct, sharp and unequivocal, as his various ideas were either amended or confirmed by gradually increasing experience until we get the results of his vast experience in the finalised and straight form in the fifth and sixth editions of the Organon.

Notwithstanding these facts, certain statements of Hahnemann have given rise to various forms of controversy, misinterpretation and misapplication since the very life-time of Hahnemann. Two of these controversies are of serious practical import viz., (1) Curantur or Curentur and (2)Whether he advised occasional use of the antipathic method in the treatment of diseases in the footnote of aphorism 67 of the 5th and 6th editions of the Organon.

(1) Cur Antur or Cur Entur: There is no ground to doubt about the fact that Hahnemann never used the word CurAntur, he always used the word CurEntur. But we should note that, that in all the editions of the Organon up to the fourth, the phrase containing this word (viz. Similia Similibus Curentur) was given only as a maxim (i.e. general principle serving as a rule or guide), but in the fifth edition (p.38) and sixth edition (p.80), we find it is given as “the only therapeutic law conformable to nature”, with the purpose to “effect an unalloyed and permanent cure”, and not to palliate or suppress. What Hahnemann means by the word cure (L. Curare), is clearly given in the aphorism.

Hahnemann was too rational a logician to make any confusion of ideas and too critical a linguist to make a confusion of expression. He made a clear distinction between the self-existent axiomatic laws of nature, which must be expressed in the indicative mood (e.g., the laws of Physics, Chemistry etc.) and the guiding principles of any even human art, to wit therapeutics, which should be expressed in the subjunctive mood, if it assumes the status of a law by being thoroughly conformable to the law of nature. That is why Hahnemann used the word Curentur (the subjunctive mood of Curare) in expressing the therapeutic law. If he would have formulated the natural law as evidenced by the phenomenon described in the aphorisms 24 to 26 together with their footnotes he would have surely used the word Curantur. This he did not deem necessary, as the natural law was obviously implied in the irrefutable phenomenon described. His only purpose was to derive a maxim or guiding law for rational curative therapeutics.

This he fulfilled, and gave expression, as a scrupulous Latin Scholar in the imperative or mandartoy form, as a directive derived from the law of nature. In other words he formulated the law of curative therapeutics as Similia Similibus Curentur ( Let likes be cured by likes), based on the law of nature Similia Similibus Curantur (likes are cured by likes). Thus the two phrases have different status and connotation, and any misplacement of them is not permissible, although we often do that through inadvertence. We should be more careful to avoid this oversight. But we should also remember in this connection that the statement: “Homoeopathy is based on the natural law—Similia Similibus Curantur— (likes are cured by likes)” may be incomplete but not at all incorrect; but the statement; “the therapeutic law (i.e., the guiding maxim of curative therapeutics i.e., Homoeopathy) is Similia Similibus Curantur”, is definitely erroneous.

The correct and complete formulation would be “Homoeopathy is the system of medicine guided by the therapeutic law Similia Similibus Curentur, conformable to and based upon the natural law Similia Similibus Curantur.” We do hereby amend our ignored previous formulations accordingly, whenever such mistakes might have occurred, and recommend that all the emblems, monograms and formulations current in the society should be corrected accordingly. 

But we should be guarded against those views which find in the word curentur, a liberty to deviate from the guiding principle at their sweet will. They construe the subjunctive mood of the verb curare, as meaning option instead of mandate. They forget or the facts of history, in compliance with their easy convenience. Hahnemann in this first essay on the Homoeopathic principle—Essay on New Principles (1796), only partially apprehended the method of Nature and stated “which sometimes cures a chronic disease by super adding another” (vide Lesser Writings, p.311 and Organon, 5th edition by R E Dudgeon, p.204). And then he gradually appreciated the method of Nature more and more fully, and was more and more thoroughly convinced that this principle is evident not only in some chronic cases, but in the real cure of all cases of natural disease without exception, be they chronic or acute. And accordingly he gradually transformed his suggestive formula or curative therapeutics (as in the aforesaid essay, 1796) into a general maxim in the first edition of the Organon (1810), and then into the universal therapeutic law in the fifth edition of the Organon (1833). Any deviation from this therapeutic law will be tantamount to deviation from the universal law of Nature, on which it is based and will be liable to be penalised by Nature.

We are, of course, for various reasons, sometime forced to deviate from this universal therapeutic law, especially in emergency situations even of natural diseases. But in such situations we should never try to comfort our conscience by the subjunctive mood of the formulation of the law of therapeutics, forgetting its mandatory spirit. Rather we should remain worried that wanton deviations are likely to be retaliated by Nature, and seriously endeavour to come of the impasse, and return to the safe and sure fold of Nature as quickly as possible.

(2)Footnote of aphorism 67: Those who seek a comfort of conscience in the subjunctive mood of the therapeutic law, as a license for their opportunist deviations, often quote this footnote as a directive from Hahnemann himself for such deviations. At the outset, we like to draw their attention to the sub-footnote of the same aphorism; and then appeal to them to re-pursue this footnote together with the footnote of aphorism 7, and the aphorism 186, keeping their minds as free as possible from traditional ideas and prejudice, opportunist trends and love of ease. If these colleagues pay any attention to this appeal, they will find that: 1) The situation mentioned by Hahnemann in these places, refer mainly not to cases of natural dynamic diseases, but to conditions arising from external mechanical causes; and so they must be dealt with principally by their corresponding means (surgical, physiological, hygienic etc.) and the consequent and associated dynamic disturbances by dynamic means with the appropriate similia.  And (ii) even when dealing with natural dynamic diseases, if at any time such emergency conditions arise due to mechanical or physiological cause (e.g., fatal loss of body fluids or blood, lack of Oxygen or heat or nutrition, or fatal failure of vitality, shock etc.) they must be dealt with the correspondingly appropriate means. But (iii) so far as the treatment of the dynamic disorder of the vital force, it must always be done dynamically on the principle of similia. Even after all these, if somebody tries to seek from these aphorisms and footnotes a mandate for the use of Penicillin in a case of Sepsis or Pneumonia, or ATS in all cases of injury, we are undone.

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