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HOMEOPATHY AND SCIENCE (Page 1 of 3)

The position of homeopathy as a science is a hotly debated topic. There is an urgent need to establish homeopathy as a science in its own right. I would like to give my personal view by placing the discussion in a wider framework. After an initial look at ‘science’ itself, we will consider homeopathy as a science and what that might mean for its further development.

Science:

What is science really? Many different definitions have been put forward. Essentially, it comes down to the idea that science is the search for universal truths. "Science is theory, based on facts" (Chalmers). Davies says "Science is a structure based on facts". There are two aspects to these definitions. The first is the aspect of theory. Science is deas, theories, models, thoughts, structures, hypothesis. It's the generalizing aspect. The second aspect refers to truth. The ideas have to be true, in accordance with some reality. This is the aspect of knowledge. In brief, science can be defined as "True ideas".

The Recognition Of Homeopathy:

The recognition of homeopathy as a science by the scientific community is problematic. The materialism paradigm, the paradigm that only material, physical and chemical things can be object of science, is blocking it’s recognition. The materialism paradigm though, is unnecessary for science as such, is even blocking it’s own development.

When adversaries of homeopathy are attacking it one of their first remarks is that “there’s nothing in homeopathic remedies”. And in a sense they are right: there’s “no thing” in it. Homeopathic remedies are chemically not very interesting. But they have that in common with many things in our culture like, books, magnetic cassettes, CD’s and DVD’s. CD’s are chemically all the same, but we use them for many different purposes like music, movies and software. The similarity is that all are interesting for the information that is on the carrier. In books ink is spread on paper in such a pattern that in contains information. On cassettes magnetic fields are impressed in special patterns. On CD’s little holes are burnt in a special pattern. In homeopathic remedies a pattern is impressed on the water and lactic sugar.

Homeopathy As Science:

Homeopathy as a science is almost as old as modern physics. During the early years, between 1800 and 1870, homeopathy progressed enormously. From 1900 until 1970, it was sailing in more tranquil waters before entering another stormy phase of development. Apart from the most recent developments, homeopathy for the most part is in the first scientific stage, that of generalizations.

Theory Generalization:

Stage 1: Generalization

By far the greatest part of homeopathic knowledge consists of drug pictures. Their symptoms tend to be generalizations, such as ‘Sulphur loves sweets’ and ‘Pulsatilla is yielding’. The bulk of homeopathic literature consists of Materia Medica and repertories, which contain this kind of information.

The information comes from provings and clinical experience. Provings are methods of induction. Clinical information is a form of confirmation. Recently more sophisticated forms of using clinical information have been tried. One is using a single case in a time line (Kramer). Rutten suggests using the likelihood ratio. The predominant research form of regular medicine is the Randomized Clinical Trial, formerly also called double blind studies. An example is the research of Reilly on hay fever.

Confusing Fact And Generalization

Confusion emerged in homeopathy between stages 0 and 1, between fact and generalization as we can see in our earlier Materia Medica’s. They consist of enumerations of facts, of symptoms, that the provers experienced during the provings. But they have been presented as generalizations, as general symptoms of the remedy. We encounter this error again and again in homeopathic literature. Kent writes in his ‘Lesser Writings’ that homeopaths must not move away from the ‘facts’: ‘Throw aside all theories and matters of belief and opinion and dwell in simple fact’. Shepperd expresses this in even fewer words: ‘Homeopathy is based on facts, not theory’. There is a desire to remain ‘factual’ (Shepperd): "Theory is usually the product of the impatient intellect, of the desire to get rid of the phenomena". Hahnemann confused fact and generalization. In 138 of the Organon he states that by definition each symptom or occurrence during a proving belongs to the remedy. In this way he gives each symptom general value and avoids the difficult problem of induction.

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