Sapere aude, incipe!

Sapere aude, incipe!

schutt oct image

The word philosophy comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia),  which, quite literally, means “love of wisdom”. In a broad sense, it is the task of understanding fundamental truths about ourselves, and the world in which we live. Most people live their lives without occupying themselves with deep philosophical problems. Yet, every one of us has a philosophy, for it is a way of looking at the world and distinguishing right from wrong.

Many great minds throughout history have labored with more complex issues and the construction and analysis of reasons and arguments. Immanuel Kant was one of them. The quote “sapere aude, incipe” is from the Latin poet Horaz, and Kant used it in his famous essay on answering the question, “What is enlightenment”, written in 1784:

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-inflicted tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to use his own understanding without the guidance of another. Such tutelage is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence, without being guided by another.

Have courage to use your own reason! That is the motto of enlightenment.

With this critical maxim, Kant was one of the most important thinkers of the “Age of Enlightenment”. During 18th century, philosophy and the development of the natural sciences had a deep influence on medicine. They gave stimulus to the first “modern” approaches in medicine, which included a reorientation of pathology, the beginning of experimental physiology and clinical medicine, to name a few.

Hahnemann lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He was obviously familiar with Kant’s writings and possibly felt inspired by him. Kant wrote:

“No matter how hard we try, we are therefore never going to know what the world is like per se, but only how it presents itself from a human perspective.”

Like Kant, Hahnemann also refused to speculate about the essential nature of things, beyond our sense perceptions: “The physician can never see the spiritual being, the vital force, that creates the disease, and he never needs to see it. In order to cure, he only needs to ascertain and perceive its morbid effects… The unprejudiced observer – well aware of the futility of transcendental speculations which can receive no confirmation from experience – be his powers of penetration ever so great, takes note of nothing in every individual disease, except the changes in the health of the body and of the mind (morbid phenomena, accidents, symptoms) which can be perceived externally by means of the senses, … and which represent the disease in its whole extent, and together form the true and only conceivable portrait of the disease.”

Hahnemann founded his medical philosophy on vitalism, naturalism, and humanism. He set standards for the homeopathic profession, providing a detailed and analytical description of the homeopathic theory and its practical application in the Organon.

Sapere aude was the battle cry of the Age of Enlightenment, and the slogan Hahnemann used as a subtitle for the Organon since its second edition. With following Horaz’ slogan Hahnemann also lived up to the credo of his school in Sankt Afra to Meissen, where it was written on the southern portal, and which proved the overall concept of a humanistic education and upbringing of this school.

Medical enlightenment, based on Kant, can be defined as man’s release from his self-inflicted tutelage with regard to things that are related to his mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

In medicine also, a great difficulty lies in motivating people to emancipate themselves. Kant rightfully lamented: “It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book that understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself. I need not think, if I can only pay – others will easily undertake the irksome work for me.” The ‘step to competence’, Kant opines, ‘is held to be very dangerous, by the far greater portion of mankind’.

Almost 300 years after the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, orthodox medicine still remains based on a mechanistic approach, it being neither logical, based on facts, nor demonstrably true. Despite sophisticated diagnostic techniques and achievements in first aid and surgery, it remains in the dark, in the true curative treatment of diseases. The negative effects from the dependency on drugs, their side effects and toxicity, as well as the suppressive effects of palliation, often outweigh the benefits. Hahnemann already complained that more patients die of their medical treatment, than of their disease. Considering the horrifically bleak medical philosophy and practice in his time, it is not surprising that he was dissatisfied with his inability to provide effective medical treatment, and sought a rational healing system.

The patient’s self-inflicted tutelage is often due to laziness, or due to the lack of resolution and courage. But it is also frequently based on lack of political freedom, social or intellectual inhibitions, or other restrictions imposed by society.

Maybe it is a good idea to give our patients a copy of the Organon, to motivate them to shake off their immaturity, as Hahnemann did. Everybody should be able to live a healthy life by virtue of his own understanding. Dare to be wise. Begin now!

Besides Hahnemann, many other homeopaths have contributed to the development of the homeopathic healing system, based on their observations and experience. One of them was Cyrus Maxwell Boger, about whom we present several articles in this issue, together with other interesting articles. Explore them and let us know your thoughts and feelings: [email protected]

Katja Schütt
Editor
Homeopathy for Everyone

About the author

Katja Schuett

Katja Schuett

Katja Schutt, Msc, HP, DHM, PGHom, DVetHom, has studied homeopathy with several schools, amongst which David Little’s advanced course stands out as it offers a really deep insight into homeopathic philosophy and materia medica (simillimum.com). Her current focus lies in working with animals and studying history, the old masters, and research.

10 Comments

  • Splendid article! A little bold (heedless?)to print a Latin headline without giving a translation in brackets. Yes, the Hippocrates “oath of doctors” still reverberates throughout “Organon” and the life and work of Hahnemann!

    • Sapere aude is a Latin phrase meaning “dare to be wise”, or more precisely “dare to know”. Originally used by Horace, it is closely associated with The Enlightenment by Immanuel Kant in his seminal essay, What is Enlightenment?. Kant claimed it was the motto for the entire period, and used it to explore his theories of reason in the public sphere.

      Hahnemann went to the Prince’s Grammar School in Meissein in his childhood. In the same school studied important representatives of the Enlightenment like the pastor’s son from Kamenz, Gotthold Ephraim
      Lessing, who attended St. Afra from 1741 to 1746, the writer of fables, Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1728-37), and the satirist Gottlieb Wilhelm Rabener (1727-33).
      In honour of Lessing, who achieved fame while still young, the words:
      “SAPERE AUDE”
      were mounted at the entrance to the school house. Lessing, adopted these words of the Roman poet Horace as his own motto.
      Hahnemann later expressed his gratitude to the school by reversing the motto:
      “AUDE SAPERE”
      and he chose it as the motif of his major work Organon der Heilkunst (The Organon of the Art of Healing) and of his life.

  • Thank you for your rousing editorial.
    The negative effects from the dependency on drugs, their side effects and toxicity, as well as the suppressive effects of palliation, often outweigh the benefits
    In my view there are no benefits, the suppression of symptoms may be a short term comfort for the patient but they signal the ignorance of understanding and forthcoming darkness. This is not analogous to the age of enlightenment.
    Surely there is no drug that allows benefits?
    With best wishes from
    Jamie

  • This October issue of the Hpathy Ezine is really special. Such an agglomeration of highly qualified and well-read authors and profound knowledge hardly is found in a single issue of a journal nowadays. Thank you so much for all the efforts taken, Mrs. Schütt and authors.
    Siegfried Letzel

  • Yes, indeed, dare to know! Many names are mentioned by the author and Manish Bhatia as to who did contribute to the evolution of wisdom except for one that, I believe, had discovered the fundamentals of Homoeopathy. Hahnemann found knowledge in the form of notes, books etc. in that library in Hermannstadt. He studied them in his thorough, diligent manner of his; he examined the claims and was awakened to the very faults of the then official medical practices. For it was only after his residency in Transylvania that he virtually turned his back on the then conventional practice of medicine. Rather than returning to Vienna and Dr von Quarin and that distinguished society, he chose a minor university for getting his doctoral title. He then set out to test the veracity of the alleged facts and eventually named, shaped and expanded that knowledge into the complete, scientific system of healing that we know today as Homoeopathy.
    The very principle of similarity, although found also in Hippocrates’ work, was so strongly espoused that it set his contemporary medical fraternity against him who
    There is much in Paracelsus writings that can be translated virtually word for word into some of Hahnemann’s writings.
    No discredit to Hahnemann! He diligently used knowledge from many sources, as he himself admitted, and to his credit made use of it and gave it to the world that wonderful package.
    I just wished he had acknowledged where he found the seeds. His failure of acknowledgement created a few awkward situations in Hahnemann’s own life with the likes of Dr Trinks (and some others I believe), to the detriment of Homoeopathy and Homoeopaths. Why? There may have been a few good reasons but it is a pity anyway and I feel Paracelsus deserves some credit.
    Johanna Arnold-Stevens

  • Dear Katja!

    I appreciate very much your editorial: aude sapere.

    I would like to translate to post it in my site about homeopathy.

    Have I your permission?

    • Dear Edson,
      thanks for your comment. Yes, you do have my permission to use the article provided that you cite the original source of publication.
      Greetings from Germany,
      Katja

      • Hello Katja, I am writing a book in which I connect the discovery of the principle of homeopathy to as far back as the Old Testament. I would like to quote certain extracts from your very informative article on Sapare aude. Will that be possible? I will of course give the reference. Thanks very much. Gerard Bocquee

        • Dear Gerard.
          I’m sorry that I did not see your comment earlier. Yes, of course, you can use the information, no problem.
          Greetings from Germany,
          Katja

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