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Precursor to the Organon: Hahnemann’s Occasional Writings Part VI – The Foundations of a New System (1790-1805)

In a previous series of articles in this magazine, we examined Dr. Hahnemann’s so-called “lesser writings,” so-called because they are not less important, only less formal. Prior to the publication of the aphoristic Organon with its legal format, that is, between the years 1790 and 1805, Hahnemann used these more conversational, less formal writings to lay the foundations of his new system of medicine. These writings set out in greater detail various ideas that Hahnemann often makes only cryptic reference to in the Organon. They provide a rich source for greater understanding of many aspects of the Organon that seem obscure, confused, and even incomprehensible, and therefore, glossed over or ignored, all to the detriment of the full application of the genial insights emanating from the mind of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann.

Here I wish to review and summarize the important ideas and concepts set out in the “lesser” writings and discussed in more detail in previous articles. These ideas and concepts are those necessary for any full understanding and illumination of the Organon proper.

Given the various references in the Organon to these occasional writings, it is clear that Dr. Hahnemann intended these writings and the Organon proper to be read as a whole, forming an extended Organon that fully lays out the system of healthcare he has bequeathed to the world, a world much like his own – still suffering from chronic diseases, still suffering under the onslaught of the unprincipled application of medicine, so that disease is either simply palliated at best or suppressed so that new, more insidious diseases emerge.

What are the main points to be found in Hahnemann’s writings prior to the Organon?

• The lack of concrete knowledge of disease and materia medica of his day. What was known was based on centuries of authority, speculation, poor observation, vanity and greed.

• The inimical use of large doses of drugs as well as repeated efforts to imitate nature’s evacuations in disease, but thereby only further weakening the patient and often leading to their death.

• A critique of the material notion of disease, and presenting the idea of the internal workings of the human organism as being subject to laws other than those that prevail in chemistry and those disciplines relating to the science of matter.

• Most importantly, the identification of two fundamental types of disease: first, those few primary diseases that were of a constant, simple nature; second, those more numerous secondary diseases produced by the interaction of the primary disease wesen (essence) with the human living power or wesen.

• This duality of disease was matched by a duality in the living power, in the nature of the disease process and in the nature of curative remedies.

• The living power had two sides – one that sustained health and restored balance, namely, the power involved in healing efforts (the sustentive power); and one that was involved in growth and generative action, including the engenderment of disease (generative power).

• This duality of the living power meant that there was a duality in the nature of the disease process – the disease agent was able to impinge upon the generative power and install itself there, such that no action of the organism could dislodge it. Only an artificial disease agent (medicine) applied according to the law of similars could destroy the original disease. Thus, the disease process on the one side involved an initial action of impregnation of the human generative power by the generative power of the disease agent (wesen). This was followed by an attempt of the natural healing power of the human being (sustentive power) to dislodge the now-installed disease and restore health. This is known as the counteraction. The initial action is almost imperceptible, while the counteraction produces the symptoms of suffering we mistakenly take for the disease itself (it is only the manifestation or expression of disease due to the counterattack of the body).

• On the other side of the disease process, we have the use of an artificial disease agent (medicine) according to the law of similars. This giving of the medicine destroys the existing disease lodged in the generative side of the living power or life force, known as the curative action. The sustentive power then responds to this new invasion by the medicine (artificial disease), and is successful, as both the original disease and the medicine disappear and so is able to restore balance (health). This is known as the healing re-action.

• Primary, constant nature diseases are those that have a specific remedy that remains so for all persons and all time. Thus, measles always is cured with the same remedy – Morbillinum – in each case. However, each primary disease in a person can give rise to any number of individual secondary diseases which must be approached individually because their nature was ever-changing and unique.

• As a means of determining the specific individual remedy for these diseases of a variable nature, Hahnemann discovered that this could be done by means of provings – testing the medicines, which were largely poisons, on healthy persons and noting the derangement of their condition in the form of symptoms.

• Since the power of a medicine lay in its ability to derange the patient’s state of health, its ability to cure also lay in this power. His knowledge of the ancient principles of opposites and similars, coupled with his close observation of the dual action of drugs (direct and indirect action), led him to a practical way to ensure that the law of similars could be applied in these numerous variable diseases.

• He began to identify various jurisdictions for the primary, constant nature diseases, although he did not formulate these in any systematic manner: those deriving from improper regimen (e.g., scurvy, goiter), those deriving from accidents (e.g., Arnica for bruises, Opium for fear), those caused by improper use of medicines (mercury disease, arsenic disease), those due to an infectious origin (miasms, epidemics), and those due to ignorance and superstition (e.g., the prevailing system of medicine).

• He began to discern the dynamic nature of disease and of medicines, diluting and shaking the substances to a point up to at least ten millionth that of customary doses in some prescriptions.

The richness of the insights and writings of Hahnemann prior to his magnum opus, the Organon, should not be overlooked. The Organon is not a work isolated from the organic development of Hahnemann’s ideas since 1790, but can only be properly understood in the context of these earlier writings.


Haehl, Richard, MD, Samuel Hahnemann, His Life and Works, Vols. I & II, 1922; English trans. by Wheeler and Grundy, edited by J.H. Clarke, reprinted by B.J. Publishers (P) Ltd., New Delhi, 1985
Hahnemann, Samuel, The Organon of the Medical Art, edited by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly, Birdcage Books, Redmond, Washington, 1996
Hahnemann, Samuel, The Chronic Diseases, trans. by L.H. Tafel, edited by P. Dudley, 1896, reprinted by B.J. Publishers (P) Ltd., New Delhi, 1986
Hahnemann, Samuel, Organon der Heilkunst, trans. by Steven R. Decker (not yet published)
Hahnemann, Samuel, The Chronic Diseases, trans. by Steven R. Decker (not yet published)
Hahnemann, Samuel, The Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemannn, collected and translated by R.E. Dudgeon, M.D., with a Preface and Notes by E.E. Marcy, M.D., translator’s note of 1851, Jain Reprint 1990.
Verspoor, R. and Decker, S., The Dynamic Legacy: from Homeopathy to Heilkunst, 2001 (on-line book) – www.homeopathiceducation.com
Verspoor, R. and Decker, S., An Affair to Remember: The Curious History of the Use of Dual Remedies, its Suppression and Significance, Hahnemann Center for Heilkunst, Ottawa, Canada, 2003

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Rudi Verspoor is Dean and Chair Department of Philosophy, Hahnemann College for Heilkunst, Ottawa. He has written extensively on homeopathy and created the only college in the world offering a full program of study in Hahnemann’s complete medical system, Heilkunst. More details on studying Heilkunst can be obtained from www.homeopathy.com [1].

Rudi founded the National Association of Trained Homeopaths (NUPATH) in Canada, as well as the Canadian/International Heilkunst Association (C/IHA). He has advised the Canadian government on healthcare issues, made presentations to various federal and provincial governments on homeopathy, and has written for various journals as well as lectured around the world.

His publications include: Homeopathy Renewed, A Sequential Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Illness (with Patty Smith); A Time for Healing; Homeopathy Re-examined: Beyond the Classical Paradigm (with Steven Decker); The Dynamic Legacy: Hahnemann from Homeopathy to Heilkunst (with Steven Decker)

The website at www.heilkunst.com [2] has more articles and resources about Heilkunst.

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