This is the second chance I take to talk in a LMHI Congress. Last year, my paper was about Method, Science and Medicine. My intention was to remind, in the context of the main subject, The Evidence-Based Homeopathy, that science and evidence are patterns of reality in the way scientists, living in a determinate social ruling system, imagine reality.
Sciences are not ontological truths, but just functional understanding and means of organizing “reality”. Evidence based medicine is not a matter of truth but an institutional “rational” convention.
Today, as you will see, I insist on reminding you MD Practitioners, that homeopathy is an historic and institutional fact, or at least, it should be. It seems a paradox, I insist on the historic and institutional quality of knowledge while the Congress’ name insists on a timeless quality.
I talk to you as an independent observer. Since no one in the LMHI has asked for my remarks regarding the way I, as a sociologist, see homeopathy’s state of affairs, I appreciate that you are listening to me.
Anyhow, the intention to speak meaningfully in words should not be confused with the intention to communicate that meaning to the hearer. When we communicate to people, we succeed in producing understanding in them by getting them to recognize our intention to produce that understanding.
That’s why, I ask that you do not stop at words and keep going with the reasoning, even if you have never heard some terms I must use, unavoidably, in my academic account.
I’m inviting you to build up a more comprehensive image of homeopathy, in which it can be understood from a sociological viewpoint.
Aim & Procedure
Indeed, my aim is to motivate stakeholders in homeopathy to see themselves in the epochal change we all live in, that I call Post-Modern Times, and to formulate some hypotheses pertaining to the future of their everyday practices or businesses.
My intention is to take you through some of Post-Modernity’s phenomena of representation of the world, as for instance, reification, money as subject and society as its predicate, considering ways in which these “patterns of reality” have affected, are affecting and will affect homeopathy.
To take you through our social time, I will use a theoretical framework that refers to the Post-Modernity Theory, as conceived by Bewes, Lyotard and Baudrillard, and to the Construction of Social Reality Theory, as formulated by Searle.
Digression – Speaker Standpoint
Indeed, I make my assumptions clear-cut. Even when one describes phenomena in third-person terms, there are always first-person epistemic assumptions. Definitely, while reasoning about any topic, there is always an assumption that affects the whole examination: the subject – of which the reasoning is an attribute, the analyst, generating any agreement or any divergence.
Even by making clear all these usually unspoken assumptions it does not mean I will communicate my message to you. Indeed, Communication means the action of mutually accepting a position concerning common or contrasting interests, gathered around a ratio or balance. In case the interlocutor does not agree with the speaker standpoint, there is hardly any likelihood the interlocutor comprehends, takes with him/her the message, or the speaker communicates. From this viewpoint, communication builds up a delimitation of common interests and an understanding about what people concerned do not share.
From the viewpoint of this digression, one realizes that, in this paper concerning homeopathy in Post-Modern Times, one does not argue about ontological entities or truth but about statements, phenomena descriptions and such, depending on the observer/speaker’s epistemological standpoint.
From a sociological viewpoint, any definition of homeopathy represents an expression of the interests concerning the subject who formulates the definition. Pretending to define a concept outside the context it lives in and of which it is an expression, represents an error in perception. Since there is a conflict of interest among different subjects engaged with the idea of homeopathy, there are many positions and definitions regarding it.
For this reason (conflict of interest and many positions), what homeopathy means changes from one generation to another, from one context to another… even if its meaning as “healing with an artificial morbific similar a morbid affection” remains as orthodoxy.
As I have already mentioned, to take you through our social time, I will use a theoretical framework that refers to the Post-Modernity Theory. When you present a case, you should use a protocol shared by your community and even if unspoken, you are supported by some theoretical assumptions. I do something similar. In my examination of homeopathy in present times, I use the guide of Bewes, Lyotard, Baudrillard and, specially, of Searle, regarding the Construction of Social Reality Theory.
Let me introduce to you my first theoretical assumption with a contrasting peculiar example.
Unlike a river, whose stream running stream through a town populated by common people subsists independently from personal opinions, unlike an earthquake, which ontology is also independent from the single’s point of view, homeopathy belongs to social realities, to the world of “institutional facts”, i.e. to the level of realities built up by consensus, by agreement.
That means “homeopathy” is not “an entity in nature” but a “connection” social subjects agree to realize in the phenomenological world, related, by a method, to health – disease and substances. That means, also, those social subjects accredit or certify their observations and practices according to institutional conventions.
My second theoretical premise is that science and knowledge are humankind ideations. Their meanings and consequences subsist and fade away in the various societies where the social subject that generates them as its attribute and predicate, lives in. Science and knowledge are not eternal abstractions or independent truths living by themselves. They are languages, i.e. historic means humans use to express their account of the world life, as it appears to human subjectivity/objectivity, and their consciousness of themselves.
That means that homeopathy can be also considered as a social historic account of the world of life as it has appeared to Hahnemann and to homeopath MDs’ subjectivity/objectivity, and it is an expression of their consciousness. It is its truth and limit (falsehood).
My third theoretical assumption is that science, as language does, produces only exact propositions, obtained from the premises that have been anticipated.
The practical consequence of this epistemic primes is as follows: The homeopathic method approach to the question regarding disease and health, indeed, simply means to arrive at that result (hÃ³moios-pÃ¡thos) that the anticipant method has produced.
Consequently, the assumption regarding the method as exact propositions based on anticipant propositions, drives us to claim that any medication depends on the presumed character of the affection and on the supposed action the medication would perform.
A fourth assumption in this elucidation regarding homeopathy in post-modern times is that the right meaning of a functional knowledge, like homeopathy, is not a matter of logic. Logic has meaning only within a system. The meaning of an idea does not depend on the elucidation of its sense but on its social life and historic death.
Consequently, the meaning of any functional knowledge is a historic fact and is understood by considering the social circumstances that produce, conserve, transform or vanish it.
This assumption implies that if homeopathic medicine has a meaning, it cannot be separated from the social circumstances in which it has effect on reality.
The reasoning now shifts, indeed, to the sociological and anthropological point of view, to cast light on the question whether and how homeopathy’s idea, i.e. healing a suffering using a similar artificial suffering, still bears any functional useful sense in post-modern times.
The fifth most significant assumption of my examination regards the definition of Post-Modernity. On methodological basics I consider that the term “Post-modernism” denotes a set of ideas that stands for the complex phenomenon of experiences and representations regarding the idea of reality, space, time and truth after Modernity dies away. Those ideas can be found in social, cultural and economic patterns.
As a result of the previous assumption I must consider man lives in patterns of reality, indeed, and if one wants to reach, efficiently, something in reality, for instance, to widespread homeopathy, one has to know how patterns (representations) of reality work.
Widening my assumed definition of Post-Modernity I must say that the term “Post-modernism”, in addition to its meaning of an aesthetic movement that rejects the modern standards of how art should be made, consumed and what it should denote, means a further rejection of Descartes’ design of reality or a refusal of the Enlightenment’s representations (intelligibility of the real world and our capacity to comprehend the world) and its rigid distinctions.
To this point of my theoretical framework excursus I must add some main features of Modernity and Post-Modernity’s Representations. Indeed, do not forget, we are not talking about “ontological entities” but about representations.
The Modernity’s representations are interested in the idea of totality, gazing at fragmentation as something tragic, Post-Modernity accounts, in contrast, rather celebrate discontinuity.
The Modernity’s representations are dominated by the classical physics, those of Post-Modernity by quantum mechanics, by prediction of probabilities in situations where classical physics predicts certainties.
To conclude these notes about the theoretical framework that support my examination of homeopathy in Post-Modern Societies, we might agree to define them as entire social formations interested in marketing, selling and consuming commodities, with specific philosophical, political and ethical ideas which provide consensus.
After having delineated my theoretical framework, we can move now through the social processes that have affected, are affecting and will affect homeopathy. Let’s start reviewing …
Modernity’s Turning Points: Secularization And Reification
Instead of worrying yourself for the terms I’ll be using, I ask you to follow the examples I set, so that you might get the understanding I want to communicate to you regarding the “secularized” representation of the human being.
While secularization in Modern Times brings God’s death in civil life under the voice of right to auto-determination, liberating the human being from considering him/herself a god’s creation and allowing he/she to think of him/herself as an ostensibly evolutionary self-conscious being with auto-determination faculty, Post-Modernity, as a paradox, does not constitute a human being centred age, as Christianity and Renascence were, but a human decentred era where attention is paid to lifestyles.
This secularized representation of the human being, however, signals a turning point in Western medicine: the 2nd largest secularisation of health and body in Western societies. In this new cultural environment, Hahnemann’s Discourse, regarding the “physician as a moral person subject to religion”1, might be considered a sort of dogmatic or pre-modern position.
After the end of theocracy, between the 18th and 20th centuries, and with the consolidation of the alliance technocracy and plutocracy during last decades, the sickness and, consequently, the health state, have been secularized further, they have been progressively handed over from the divinity’s power to the civilian power.
In Western culture, the first attempt to secularize disease was carried out by Hippocrates2. He is credited with being the first physician to reject divine force causing illness. He separated the discipline of medicine from religion, arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by gods but rather the product of environmental factors, diet and living habits. On the Sacred Disease, he is the first to argue that religious explanations arises from ignorance.
In the context of a secularized world, health may be also considered as the ideal transient state one can aspire to by means of the acquisition and use of treatment available on market in order to reach better performances in social profiles.
Catholic and Calvinist controversy regarding health as a god’s gift to man who behaves well is over. Man’s identity and health is now represented separately from a theocratic limit and let to be a choice on the market.
Health becomes a matter of what and how to consume, a matter of lifestyle and income. Man’s life is not represented as a theological design any longer. As an evolutionary self-conscious being with auto-determination faculty, man might even genetically “modify himself”.
As a result of the process of secularization, in the post-modern order, the self is ‘made’, rather than inherited or just passively static, self-identity becomes a reflexive project – an endeavour that the person continuously thinks of and works on. The person creates, maintains and revises a set of biographical narratives – the story of who he/she is, and how he/she came to be where he/she is now.
Self-identity, then, is not a set of traits or observable characteristics. It is a person’s own reflexive understanding of his/her biography. Self-identity has continuity – that is, it cannot easily be completely changed at will – but that continuity is only a product of the person’s reflexive beliefs about his/her own biography.
A stable self-identity is based on an account of a person’s life, actions and influences which makes sense to themselves, and which can be explained to other people without much difficulty. It ‘explains’ the past, and is oriented towards an anticipated future. A person’s identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor – important though this is – in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going.
This new conception, regarding an evolutionary self-determined human being, clashes with the prevailing idea in classical homeopathy concerning the human being as a naturalistic creature “born” from an ontological theological design no one should modify.
Regarding this matter, a sort of intellectual silence seems to reign in homeopathy’s realm. The question seems to take the form of a criticism. Homeopathy attacks new ideologies regarding the human being’s possibilities of “modifying her/himself” as a degeneration, since by doing that, the human being does not obey the design nature or god has provided. In such disobedience a part of homeopathy’s theorization identifies the cause of disease.
Even if from a physiological viewpoint one may use parameters somewhat objective to define the state of health, in such a definition there are implicit social dominant values, power relationship. The heart transplant is made available by something else rather than the simple technical progress. It becomes feasible because body – life is now mainly conceived as evolution and not as a god’s possession or creation. Today, regarding lifetime and its content or quality, the definition is made by the civil society rather than the Vatican State.
Another most outstanding turning point in post-modern society, that has effected and will still affect homeopathy, is the one related to the increasing “reification” process: use-value becomes objects of cult, ideas become increasingly fetishes and any metaphysic and theological reassurance become commodities .
This process of representation involves separating something out from the original context in which it occurs and placing it in another context, in which it lacks some or all of its original connections and still it seems to have power or attributes which in truth it does not have.
This process of alienation, at thought level, is an inherent and necessary characteristic of economic value as it manifests itself in market trade to hide the social relations and the worker, that creates value, by means of relations among objects.
In post-modern times the commodity fetishism reaches a paramount perfect function of replacing inter-human relationships with relationships between humans and objects. Shifting attention to the commodity, for example, the relationship between producer and consumer is obscured.
In this context, producers of homeopathic medicine tend just to highlight their attention to the “product packaging”, regardless who and how will ultimately use it. Similarly, the consumer or patient can only see his/her relationship with the product he/she uses, being unaware of the people who produced that “object” and of the whole theoretical context it belonged to once upon a time. Thus, commodity fetishism or reification ensures that none of the stakeholders is fully conscious of the political and social positions they occupy.
Reification is what occurs, for instance, when we, increasingly, denominate “homeopathy” or “homeopathic” simple pills or drops, made up following a manufacturing process consisting of dilutions according to specific ratios and quantified number of beats of any substance, separating from the context, in which the so-called homeopathic product is used, the connections with the principle of similar, to be exact, separating, from the context in which “homeopathy” is promoted as commodity, the significant connections related to the idea of an artificial suffering, individuated by a proving in healthy persons (pathogenesis), likely to cure a similar suffering in an ill person.
Reification is also what occurs when an abstract concept that describes a relationship or context is treated as a concrete “thing”, for instance, when the principle of similar and the set of correlated principles and axioms are marketed, reified as a tube labeled “homeopathy” on a store shelf or when we market as “homeopathy” what is simply an herbal extracts, as if separating, in this way, the remedy, a medium, from its theoretical support were possible.
Inversion between object and subject or between means and ends are a common practice in market trade.
Reification implies objects are, intentionally, transformed into subjects and subjects are turned into objects, with the result that subjects are rendered passive and determined by the object, while objects are rendered the active, determining factor. This sort of reification occurs, for instance, when the homeopath physician is subject to the reified “product” or when pathogenesis is rendered as universally active and idiosyncrasy of the single ill patient is rendered passive, by attributing an universal and immutable nature to what is just inductive experimental data of proving – a function of the observer or researcher’s epistemic view.
Reification also results from supposing that whatever can be named, or conceived abstractly, must actually exist, running into an ontological and epistemological fallacy, as for instance, when an homeopath physician claims that the remedy restores health in a way the ill person, healed, can fulfill the higher purpose of existence.
Reification also occurs when, defining homeopathy, many practitioners assert it is a therapeutic method, a sort of Technical Tool, without considering that it is, first, a set of ideas. This misunderstanding regarding ideas and representations is a matter of consequence. Numerous practitioners, indeed, treat representations as if they were concrete “entities”, instead of abstractions, like science or disease.
This probably happens also in teaching homeopathy, since numerous homeopath physicians tend to confuse “abstractions” with “phenomenological descriptions” or “ontological entities”. Many of them forget the narrative and conceptual level of their practice.
Countless practitioners live in a reification circle in which concepts and abstractions (social facts) that refer to the phenomenological world are thought to be “natural laws”. Unfortunately, reification, effective in propaganda, when used in logical arguments is, as a rule, considered a fallacy.
In this way, in post-modern times, homeopathy, from a set of ideas regarding a method of healing a suffering with an artificial similar suffering (the remedy or agent of an artificial illness), in an ethic prospective to help man to reach the highest purpose of existence, appears as a set of products to support man’s ordinary performances.
I am describing tendencies, picturing patterns of reality, and it means also that not every single citizen in post-modern society is aware of academic and intellectual elites’ conjectures and new mental representations. For the crowd god is still alive. Only the Nietzsche’s Ãœbermensch can stand up by himself without deity. And if the Western multitude get a hint the Semitic god is not breathing anymore, it flees away to get another or imports exotic deities, as many as possible – each icon with its kit of ideas and reveries and lifestyles.
Secularisation, that peculiarly is not a human centred age, presents another paradox. While elites know “delusion” and agree with the idea of regarding reality and truth as conventions and representations (abstractions), the ordinary people, on the contrary, and throughout reification, go on living in a sort of mythological world where things are considered as metaphysical values and representations are taken for “reality”, treating abstractions as they were “real things”, as they had living existences and abilities.
Homeopathy In Post-Modern Times – The Challenge: Deregulation
After having considered in some imperfect ways how the secularization and reification processes of representations affect homeopathy, we can now introduce the deregulation phenomenon to better portray the challenges homeopathy faces in Post-Modernity.
Let’s start by posing some questions. Will Post-Modernity deregulation open the door to homeopathy? Which scenarios could be disclosed if the doors of post-modern consumerism open to homeopathy? Might this openness represent its end?
Indeed, in order to better characterize the challenges homeopathy faces in Post-Modernity it is necessary to consider the Deregulation phenomenon, i.e., the process by which governments remove, reduce or simplify restrictions on business and individuals with the intent to encouraging efficient private market operations and the new areas of trade opening up. The stated rationale for deregulation is often that fewer and simpler regulations will lead to raised competitiveness level, therefore higher productivity, more efficacy and lower prices, with its resulting higher consumerism and human happiness.
Indeed, this deregulation impacts even the professional market allowing new figures to act. It’s already common to see naturopathy courses ads on TV. It means the end of the golden age of doctoring.
This deregulation pervades, inevitably, the health and disease market and, certainly, the ethos of medical practice, the studies program for developing technical and professional know-how, the skillful figures that cooperate or fight in the market of health and wellness, introduced as concept and identified in numerous businesses marketed around the wellness idea. In conclusion Deregulation pervades, inexorably, the whole system of denomination and commercializing medicinal products and related.
In a context dominated by secularisation, reification and deregulation, homeopathy may cease being the idea of healing patient’s suffering with an artificial similar suffering (the remedy as agent of artificial illness), following, with art, Hahnemann’s method, to become, at best, the action of utilizing “products”, denominated by marketing, “homeopathic”, following the most standardised technical means of prescription of a substance or set of substances based on a array of criteria regarding the therapeutic reliability or even following standardized therapeutics indications for auto-prescription.
In social wide semantics, homeopathy means mostly a “natural product” people can get without the physician prescription at drug stores, even at self services shelves. It mirrors how homeopathy strategy of positioning itself on market appeals to the still alive popular romantic idea of nature as good, notwithstanding how venomous it can be.
A teaching and an understanding of health and disease in the cultural background of educated classic homeopath physicians, homeopathy appears, in collective imagination, represented in just that dimension that best fits reification: the product, a denomination. Whether the “product-medicine” corresponds or not to a therapeutics decision according to the homeopathic method Hahnemann did illustrate and to a “remedy” incorporated into the Materia Medica after proving, constitutes an elite’s arguments.
In most parallel worlds to a medical congress of homeopathy, it is not expected the product demonstrates it works according to the similar principle and theoretical aspects but according to the molecular model or in line with a botanical-therapy rationale.
At most levels of homeopathy’s semantic worlds, homeopathy, at best, is a synonym of a product manufactured according to “homeopathic pharmacopoeia techniques”. This last use of the term expresses a representation of homeopathy in a manner ordinary people can grasp it: a commodity.
Meanings In Post-Modern Societies – Homeopathy: Just An Episode of Ideation in Historical Annals or A Knowledge That Still Bears Historic Meaning!
Understanding what homeopathy means as social, institutional and historic fact is of utmost importance for understanding my remarks regarding homeopathy’s future, particularly, in the context of Post-Modernity’s Meanings Fragmentation. Your future will not to be the same if homeopathy is an historical fact, since it would mean homeopathy is just an episode in the chronicle of the past!
From a sociological point of view a multiplicity or a fragmentation of meanings related to homeopathy is not a matter of “perversion”. Most homeopathic physicians arguing about the true homeopathy to be taught and practised do not realize that science and knowledge are historic facts. If a knowledge system does not bear historic meaning it becomes just a historical fact.
From the “genealogy” prospective – and from Nietzsche forwards – history or the historic sense goes beyond categories of true and false. The right meaning is not a matter of logic. Logic has meaning only within a system. A right meaning is a matter of “genealogy”. According to genealogy, knowledge systems (like homeopathy) are historic facts and are understood on the basis of their existence course.
That means that any single system of knowledge is judged by considering the social circumstances that have produced it, that have conserved and transformed it, and even those circumstances that have vanished any meaning to be attributed to this system.
If knowledge systems, like homeopathy, are historic facts, this also means that homeopathy’s history does not refer to a chronicle of individual episodes, regarding Hahnemann’s insights, that have no circumstance to subsist. Homeopathy’s history refers to the social conditions that have produced, sustained and transformed homeopathy. Homeopathy is an “institutional fact”, or at least, it tries to be recognized largely as such.
The limits of this course of meanings homeopathy might have given rise to indicate the borders of the truth and the falsity in homeopathy, where the subject that decides is not any longer the unfolding logical explanation of its epistemology or the cohorts and meta-analysis order, but the historic unfolding order of their meanings succession, i.e., the order of plausible senses, one moment of truth, then of falsity.
There is no a timeless truth of homeopathy. There are conditions under which the idea of homeopathy has been introduced and conditions that remain valid until the idea of homeopathy produces effects of reality, till history confirms the idea. The meaning of an idea does not depend on the elucidation of its sense but on its life and historic death.
Truth or falsity of ideas are, then, written in their social existence. The life of an idea opens the conditions of its truth and of its falsity, similarly, its death, its vanishing, bring them to a close. There is no truth, then, that transcends history. Any truth is encompassed between a beginning and an end and occupies the space of a historic course that unfold from the idea’s origin to its disappearance.
Any speech for or against an idea supposes the existence of this idea, when this existence collapses, any proof for or against is not necessary any more.
What Christians from the first century of their age call ecclesia is not at all just a common dogma and a community of persons met around it. Since the beginning, the concept of Church has signified, equally, a collection of testimonies that shows through times the truth of the idea of rescue. It tries to evidence with new examples “the reality of the idea of rescue”, admitting that any successful society must regenerate and reinvest with accuracy its social capital.
The question arisen – the meaning of homeopathy – should not be misunderstood. The genealogy of homeopathy is not its historiography. Historiography searches for the chronological starting point of an idea, for the historical context in which the idea is generated. Genealogy, on the contrary, searches for the disclosure of meaning that a certain idea inaugurates, meaning by which the disclosure expresses itself. The research regarding the genealogy of homeopathy aims at tracing the idea of healing a suffering with an artificial similar suffering and exploring what such idea has signified.
Such a distinction must be done because when one refers to the history of homeopathy, strictly speaking, it means that the idea of homeopathy, healing a suffering with an artificial similar suffering, still carries a useful meaning. It would be wrong to confuse the history of homeopathy with an account of episodes or anecdotes that do not subsist any longer as carrier of a social project, of meaningful historic time.
If the history of homeopathy were considered as anything else than a chronicle, than a warehouse of anecdotes and miracles, a decisive transformation of its image could be generated, an image that would cast light on the crucial role of social and cultural relations as the true subject of sciences and transactions.
Strictly speaking, when one refers to history, one refers to a social project. When one refers to the end of history, one refers to societies without ideologies, without any social meaningful idea and, consequently, without a meaningful project for the collectivity but the one of a consumerism that feedbacks itself by fulfilling lifestyles tasks. When, on the contrary, one refers to events of the past, disregarding their useful meaning for societies, one refers to the chronicle. It is a paradox, when one refers to history one refers to a coming time.
The point is, consequently, which is the socially prevailing meaning of homeopathy? To put the question crudely, whether the idea of healing a suffering with an artificial similar suffering, still bears a useful meaning for the collectivity?
We have been describing representations processes, i.e. attributes, predicates. But who is, actually, the subject of our times?
Being post-modernity a time without a denominated ideology and being the idea of ideology consequently hidden, by reification, behind the infatuated adhesion to lifestyles, even homeopathy ceases being an idea and enters to participate in the reification process, it becomes just “products” on drug stores shelves, a denomination, a commodity for ritual transactions, at best, a software for prescribing remedies.
It does not mean that we live in a time of depravity. The question is of another nature. It regards the subject of what happens today.
Churches and religions are still important subjects, but the greatest subject of current times is the binomial capital and technique relationship. Capital and Technique are no longer the means but the end. Societies are the means, their predicates or attributes.
Money, contrary to treasure, is movement. It is permanently traveling its tour of auto-valorization. Its only motto and mission is to broaden, at any time, its self movement of capitalization. Consequently, it produces effects essentially “futuristic”, generates a chronic affection to the future that articulates itself at any level money reaches in the form of a renewed expectative of profits. Its chronological form is the permanent crisis of accretion. Its modus vivendi implies the overthrowing of any relation – deregulation – coming from uses, custom and legislation interfering with its logic of auto-valorization. In its triumphal march money interfaces with nihilism.
The absence of ontological truths in post-modern times does not means degeneration of human being nor a symptom of the human malady. The cult of nothingness is, simply, an unavoidable result of the monotheism of money. For this god, any other value means a mere idol, an illusion.
The Sphere of Knowledge
To get some idea regarding how the subject “money” affects homeopathy, it is enough to verify that the logic of the capital transformations has signified important modification in the sphere of knowledge. In the post-modern context, erudite knowledge, like treasure, makes no sense. Scientific academies and universities become the capital’s partners. Knowledge acts as material stock for application in commodities and services that make possible the dynamism of money.
In the realm of functional knowledge, the research corresponds to the complex of activities that in the sphere of money is indicated as investment. It implies the controlled risk of exposing to losses what until now was acquired in favor of future acquisitions.
The capital as knowledge, like the capital as money, meets periodical crisis in which its further utilities are called into question – for instance the benefits deriving from the promises of the higher purpose of existence, the principle of similar, the proving. The crisis solution is almost always what the sociology of knowledge names a paradigm shift. During the process the more antique cognitive or symbolic values are destroyed, while activity goes on in a more intensive way under new concepts and mental innovations.
In the context of the modern positive science, in which the post-modern man has been grown, the questions regarding the purposes of existence or the meaning of human life do not subsist, indeed.
The positive concept of science, in modern times, represents, from a historic point of view, as Husserl has denominated it, a residual concept. It has dropped all the questions which have been considered under the now narrower, now broader concept of metaphysics, including all questions vaguely termed “ultimate and highest”. In the objectifying molecular mechanisms and models paradigm there is no room for transcendental subjectivity. The science of data creates a data-man, following the data-based decision-making software.
A most outstanding aspect of Post-Modernity is concerned with questions regarding the organization of knowledge. In modern societies, knowledge was equated with science. In a post-modern society, however, knowledge becomes functional: one learns how to use tools, appliances derived from knowledge but one does not develop a knowledge. Educational policy puts emphasis on skills and training rather than on humanist ideal.
Homeopathy nowadays is taught rather as functional knowledge: developing skills to manage the “tools” like “taking case techniques” and “repertories” in order to get the remedy for prescription. The philosophical question about the practical matters and concerns (what do “health” and “disease” mean? / how should man be healed?) become redundant.
Not only is knowledge in post-modern societies reduced to its utility, its appliances, to competences, to use of tools, but knowledge is also distributed, stored and arranged differently than in modern ones. Specially the advent of electronic computer technologies has revolutionized the modes of knowledge production, distribution and consumption.
In post-modern societies, anything which is not able to be translated into a form recognizable and storable by computer, i.e., anything that’s not digitizable, will cease to be knowledge. In this paradigm, the opposite of “knowledge” is not “ignorance”, as it is in the modern/humanist paradigm, but rather “noise”. Anything that does not qualify as a kind of knowledge is “noise”, is something that is not recognizable as anything within this system.
Thinking about the phenomenon described raises an important question in post-modern societies. Who decides what knowledge is and what “noise” is, and who knows what needs to be decided. Such decisions about knowledge do not involve the old modern/humanist qualifications. (For example, to assess knowledge as truth (its technical quality), or as goodness or justice (its ethical quality) or as beauty (its aesthetic quality). Rather, knowledge follows the paradigm of a language game, as laid out by Wittgenstein.
The subject is no longer the philosophical question about the practical matter, that is, in homeopathy, how to comprehend man is in order to, then, find out right methods to restore his/her health. The subject now is the technique, the capital, the software and the product or medicine.
Simillimum And Higher Purpose Of Existence In Post-Modern Times
It seems a nonsense to discuss the idea of the simillimum without considering a sort of fundamental ontology or epistemology regarding man or human being. Hahnemann’s Organon first edition was published in 1810, just one year after Darwin was born. In Hahnemann’s times man was still considered a theological creation. Science was still subjected to a theological ideation and the positive science was not abundantly developed.
Many features of the contemporary natural science conception of reality are still in dispute and still problematic. But two features are not for grabs. They are not, so to speak, optional for us as citizens of the early twenty-first century. It is a condition of our being an educated person in our era that one is apprised of these two theories: the atomic theory of matter and the evolutionary theory of biology.
The picture of reality derived from these two theories, to state it crudely, is as follows: The world consist entirely of entities that we find it convenient, though not entirely accurate, to describe as particles. These particles exist in fields of force, and are organized into systems. The boundaries of systems are set by causal relations or necessary connections. Examples of systems are mountains, molecules, crystals, rivers and babies. Some of these systems are living systems. Types of living systems evolve through natural selection, and some of them have evolved certain sorts of cellular structures, specially, nervous systems capable of causing and sustaining consciousness. Consciousness is a biological, and therefore physical, though of course also mental, feature of certain higher-level nervous systems, such as human brains and a large number of different types of animal brains. With consciousness comes intentionality, the capacity of mind to represent objects and states of affairs in the world other than itself.
Here are the bare bones of our world: We live in a world made up entirely of physical particles in fields of force. Some of these are organized into systems. Some of these systems are living systems and some living systems have evolved consciousness. With consciousness comes intentionality, the capacity of the organism to represent objects and state of affairs in the world to itself.
Now the question is, how can co-exist a theological idea of a human life created by a god and the evolutionary theory of biology? In this context Hahnemann’s homeopathy, with its method of healing that intends to restore health to the patient so that he/she is able to act for “the higher purpose of existence”, as a theological design, seems a moral philosophy, something without heuristic evidence.
Overcome even the concept of individuality with the Christianity crisis, that has cultivated it, and with the global technological capitalism profiles homologation, even the idea itself of a “simillimum” for the single individual seems redundant in a world of homologated profiles working as servant of the technique.
In a context in which the historic concept of individuality comes to an end, it sounds more plausible a kind of homeopathy in which the principle of similar refers to a therapeutics diagnosis, as in conventional medicine, that is, a homeopathic remedy assimilated to the concept of standardized drug.
The deficit of Hahnemann’s homeopathy in post-modern times seems to be keeping itself devoted to a transcendence, to an individuality and to the meaning of life and higher purpose of existence.
From an epistemological point of view its interest in the “individuality” holds back clinical work with therapeutic guide lines aimed at the building-up of a database useful to design cohorts and meta-analysis to accredit evidence, in the term requested by the conventional positive science research.
Yet from an epistemological point of view, another aspect of this deficit is the one of mistaking the experimental data (that are a function of the observer) for “ontological essences” and conferring such “ontological nature” to the language derived from the proving.
From the point of view of the pharmaco-dynamics, linked to the positive science, homeopathy should yet prove effective using the models to establish the action of drugs designed according to the objectivism of classical physics.
The main characteristic of postmodernism seems to be a loss of faith (consensus) in the ideas of the Enlightenment. It is argued by postmodernists that people have become disillusioned with the idea that science and rational thought can be used to make the world a better place. Since Western God’s Death, the “optimism” of the new testament god’s character, is lacking and ordinary people have started to get depressed and disenchanted with the idea of so-called “progress”.
Post-modern societies are also seeing the disappearance of old certainties. In the past, gender roles, ethnic differences, social class differences were all clear-cut and people generally conformed to societal expectations.
Today the old distinctions are blurring and people choose who they want to be, and how they want to behave. Whilst earlier societies, with a social order based firmly in tradition, would provide individuals with (more or less) clearly defined roles, in post-traditional societies one has to work out his/her roles for him/herself. Another feature of post-modern time is its scepticism towards meta-narratives.
In societies where the old certainties vanish, the consensus towards the idea of the “higher purposes of existence” appears tricky and the theological utility Hahnemann ascribed to health has been questioned.
If health is an end in itself, if there is no identity the subject cannot modify, since he/she does not belong anymore to a theological design, a therapeutic approach is just as good as any other, whether it restores the man’s performance or a condition of performances that stands an optimal cost-effective rapport.
Therefore, the research for heuristic documentation widens from “demonstrating how remedy works” to another field, conjectural as the former: to determining “conventions” about the marketing positioning of homeopathy’s cost-effectiveness or cost/benefit rapport.
Since the idea of the “higher purposes of existence” appears tricky, any therapeutic approach is just as good as any other and the research for heuristic documentation widens from “demonstrating how a remedy works” to another field, conjectural as the former: to determining “conventions” about the marketing positioning of homeopathy’s cost-effectiveness. All this does not mean homeopathy cannot have its chance in Post-Modernity, with its ability to borrow from the past and combine a wide range of styles together – a ‘pick and mix’ approach.
As said before, secularization in post-modern times presents a paradox. While elites know “disillusion” and agree upon the idea of reality and truth as conventions, as representations, the ordinary people, on the contrary and by means of reification, go on in a kind of mythological world where things are considered as metaphysical values and representations are mistaken for “reality”.
After Modernity and deities sunset, post-modern societies present a yearning for rescue promises. This vacuum represents a chance for Medicine to be considered again as a tool to manage people or as a medium to get power.
Behind the widespread phenomenon of healthier lifestyles, indeed, there is the utmost need of a sense of rescue in Western societies recently launched into secularization “officially “.
The elite that put an end to the idea of a world created by a divinity can cope with secularised life with a sort of scientific rationality. The ordinary people, however, are not able to manage with rational tools the madness from which humankind comes forward. Nietzsche has explained that Western man was yet incapable of taking on the responsibility of self-determination. The ordinary man still seeks to be rescued and health is the nearest ideal to the thought of salvation. Likely, health products are the nearest “entities” to the idea of protection. The paradox is that Medicine starts struggling against deities.
After the sunset of the ideologies of scatological rescue, it is likely consumption trends regarding “healthier lifestyles” will go on growing. It means a chance for Homeopathy, that can be seen as a sort of Pietas or as a sort of secularized rescue or healthy lifestyle.
The question to elucidate is whether homeopathy will be capable of resigning to the temptation of playing its part in a mystifying version or it will be capable of playing its part in a secular manner.
Related to this question, there is another one: whether and how homeopathy’s idea, i.e. healing a suffering using a similar artificial suffering, still bears any functional useful sense in post-modern times.
As I have said at the introduction of my reflection, taking into account some intensified phenomena of representation of the world in Post-modernity, as for instance, reification, money as subject and society as its predicate, and considering their expressions in homeopathy, this elucidation intends to motivate stakeholders to see themselves in this epochal change, in which they live in, and formulate some hypotheses pertaining to the future of their everyday practices in post modern times.
No-one can command by decree whether the hÃ³moios-pÃ¡thos idea will go on producing effects of reality in post-modern times. Taking into account the reification of the idea of homeopathy, we can conjecture that homeopathy might become a “simulacra” (Baudrillard), a copy, in the commodities flow with “signified” (surfaces or packaging) regarding mainly pleasantries, according to the contexts of interest in which the “copy” is used.
That homeopathy is a way of producing “products” under the denomination “homeopathy” or specific manufacturing process may be taken for granted. Whether, in the sunset of theological rescue plans, at the sunrise of neurosciences, homeopathy will be capable of upgrading itself as the hÃ³moios-pÃ¡thos medicine, being able to play the role of a secularized medicine, depends on the ongoing conflict of interests that defines its present meanings in social terms.
“Social auto-determination”, evolutionary biology and neurosciences seem to be of paramount importance as references in the discussion related to the future of homeopathy. Homeopathy’s future does not depend on its logical, theoretical or clinical implications but on its social meaning. Indeed, if homeopathic medicine has a meaning, it cannot be separated from the social circumstances in which it has an effect on reality.
The reasoning now shifts, indeed, to the sociological and anthropological point of view, to cast light on the question of whether and how homeopathy’s idea, i.e. healing a suffering using a similar artificial suffering, still bears any functional useful sense in post-modern times.
Any successful society or knowledge must regenerate and reinvest with accuracy its social capital.
From 64th LMHI World Congress 2009 – Timeless Quality Homeopathy
1Social and historical Believing in order to understand: Hahnemann’s hierarchisation of values J.M. Schmidt Department of the History of Medicine, University of Munich, Germany. In Homeopathy, Volume 97, Issue 4, October 2008, Page 226 JM Schmidt
2Western culture owed to Hippocrates the first diseases secularization attempt. On the Sacred Disease he states it has a natural structure & natural causes but that men yet considered it in a certain way a divinity’s work by men inexperience & astonishment. The first technique to emancipate from deities is medicine, as an attempt to avoid the evitable death, the death owed to ignorance, which sinks its roots in the action of ascribing to deities the causes of phenomena.
Searle, John R. “The construction of social reality”, The Free Press Edition, New York, 1995
Bewes, T. “Reification. The anxiety of late capitalism”, Verso, 2002
Baudrillard, J. “Le pacte de luciditÃ© ou l’intelligence du Mal”, Editions GalilÃ©e, 2004
Giddens, A. « Modernity and Self-identity : Self and Society in Late Modern Age”, Stanford University Press, 1991
“Runaway World: How Globalisation is Reshaping Our Lives”, Routledge, 2002
Lyotard JF, Bennington G, Massumi B, Jameson F. « The Post-Modern Condition : A report on Knowledge”, Manchester University Press, 1984
Lyotard JF, Pefanis J, Thomas M, Barry D, Godzich W. “The Postmodern Explained”, University of Minnesota Press.
Foucault, M. “The order of things: an archaeology of the human sciences”, Pantheon, New York, 1970
Husserl, E. “Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology”, Paperback, 1970
Rosenberg, Charles E. “Our Present Complaint. American Medicine, Then and Now”, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2007
Excellent and very indepth paper!