It is common for us to read criticisms of homeopathy in the media. In Brazil, a famous infectious disease doctor published a new attack on homeopathy last May, on the occasion of Tina Turner’s death.
The title of her article is “Homeopathy is Made of Nothing,” and if the reader knows how to read Portuguese, they can check the content of the text here (https://oglobo.globo.com/blogs/a-hora-da-ciencia/post/2023/05/tina-turner-e-a-homeopatia.ghtml?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=OGlobo).
I will not use this space to respond to Dr. Pasternak, nor to highlight the indisputable qualities of homeopathic treatments. My goal is different and perhaps less friendly (provocative, I admit): my intention is to propose a reflection on what we, homeopaths from around the world, could be doing in relation to the defense of homeopathy, and in a way that I consider more relevant or convincing.
I am concerned that many of us are in the “public debate arena” as victims who need to defend themselves constantly, and using the tools provided by the attackers themselves. I will go back in time a little to clarify this point.
The scientific method as we know it is not as old as one might suppose. In fact, it is the result of a cultural paradigm that had its first movements in the 15th and 16th centuries, with the works of Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, Galileo, and many others.
The main idea of this incipient movement was to present the world – and all of reality – as if they were nothing more than machines capable of knowledge, definition, and even control. The notion of the world as a machine is closely linked to the paradigm shift brought about by the advent of Modernity.
If we add to the aforementioned scientific revolution, philosophical enlightenment, and Cartesian rationalism, we have the set of determining factors in the replacement of the “ancient perspective” (full of symbolism and tradition, marked by a poetic capacity of man) with a new one – mechanistic and scientific – especially inhospitable to any and every type of reality that is not extensive and material (an allusion to René Descartes’ fundamental thesis).
That said, it is worth remembering that the modern scientific method, based on experimentation, “impartial” observation, and the possibility of verifying results, is entirely designed to measure and describe sensible realities (i.e., those that can be perceived by the senses).
When discussing this scientific method, it is necessary, therefore, to talk about its limits: the scientific paradigm that still predominates among us is incapable of attesting to the reality of a human feeling, for example, without resorting to physiologism, hormonal changes, or biochemical reactions that occur in the body of a young person in love.
But I ask: is this a human feeling? A specific organismic reaction?
Not by chance, modern medicine is marked by the same characteristics of the method that (supposedly) legitimize it. Personally, I grew up under the influence of news like “smokers have a 50% higher chance of developing cancer.” What took me a while to realize is that these statements, made by the most renowned scientists of our time, reduce human life to numbers and simplistic cause-and-effect relationships, generating something like the “mathematization” of man.
If we remember Descartes once again, we will understand that the consequence of this is the obvious fragmentation of our reality, a result responsible for the emergence of specialized doctors, those who understand a lot about a part of the patient.
By way of illustration: my wife recently went to the gynecologist, and at the end of the routine consultation, she mentioned being bothered by some spots on her leg. The doctor’s response was as expected: “consult a vascular specialist.” We all know similar stories.
Let’s go back to the point. The predominant scientific paradigm qualifies the visible, analyzes the real as a phenomenon, and is incapable of referring to the Whole (remembering that the whole is not simply the sum of its parts). Have good things happened as a result of this?
Certainly, and it would be irresponsible to deny some of these effects of scientism on the improvement of modern life. However, it is now time to recognize its harms or, at the very least, its inadequacy in expressing reality as it is.
If modern science and its orthodox means of research and investigation are insufficient in measuring and expressing reality, then, in my view, this is precisely why we homeopaths are picking the wrong fight; accepting the terms of the competitor when that competitor, in truth, sees less than we do (in principle).
I know many homeopathic colleagues are doing great work in the field of scientific research in homeopathy, and a series of publications attempt to demonstrate the effectiveness of the treatments we perform according to the current paradigm.
The founder of this so-called alternative medicine, Samuel Hahnemann, himself had an investigative spirit and was in favor of unbiased experiments and observations of medicinal actions. Even so, without intending to offend the memory of the founder or the homeopathic researchers, I believe it is essential, and without delay, to embrace the perspectives of another paradigm of knowledge – one that is more appropriate for translating what truly happens when a person uses a homeopathic remedy. Because demonstrating that Allium cepa helps cure colds and flu does not do justice to what homeopathy truly is.
In the book “The Basic Code of the Universe,” Dr. Massimo Citro makes an important observation regarding everything that integrates the universe: recognizing that something may be devoid of phenomena does not mean recognizing that it is devoid of existence.
In other words, based on different authors (from physics to medicine, from ancient philosophy to anthropology), Dr. Citro points to what I consider an inescapable fact: the concept of matter (something that exists) does not identify with what is perceived.
Body is what can be perceived, and matter is often beyond our senses and microscopes, integrating what the author of the book would call the void. This is worth clarifying because one of the consequences of Cartesianism was precisely the confusion of reality with “extension,” that is, matter capable of producing phenomena (perceived by the senses).
However, due to the paradigm shift we have been experiencing for some years, it is essential to remember that matter is everything that exists, including what belongs to the “vacuum,” that is, to what has no phenomena and does not present a body.
In Dr. Citro’s own words, “the void is indeed the absence of perception, a vacuum of phenomena (…); the void is matter (…) Until science investigates other aspects of matter, it will only achieve partial results” (pages 40 and 41 of the Brazilian edition).
And wouldn’t it be precisely in this void, or through it, that homeopathy’s action takes place? Wouldn’t our medicinal system be a material mechanism devoid of phenomena? Some colleagues might argue that the phenomenon exists, after all, patients are cured based on the remedies we indicate.
However, that is the final and perceptible result of the process. The process itself, let’s admit, is invisible. And which science of the current paradigm is capable of evaluating the invisible? All our best homeopathic researchers can present to a world still hungry for scientific “evidence” are final results and their interpretations, not the tiny or infinitesimal mechanisms that happen from void to void, energy to energy, or whatever one might call it.
Let’s call upon a world-renowned homeopath for the conversation. In 1998, Professor George Vithoulkas granted an interview to a German TV channel that made a documentary about him. At a certain point in the recording, the great Greek homeopath talks about the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment and the tensions involved in the logical explanation of its mechanism of action: “We have presented several explanations of how homeopathy works, yet they always ask for a new explanation.
It’s quite simple. When an organism develops symptoms of a disease, it does so to heal itself, to contain the disturbance. Thus, if a medicine is given that increases these symptoms, the body’s defense mechanism will be strengthened.
That’s the whole story; there is no more logical conclusion than that. We have also elaborated the theoretical basis with the help of Physics. However, the problem remains because the remedy works, although the substance in dilution cannot be reconstituted.
But it is effective. Why should we be bothered by that? (…) I believe that with time, there will be unshakable evidence if governments and the EU provide subsidies for research. But it is not a matter of proof, rather that pharmaceutical industries will lose a lot of money since millions of patients will seek homeopaths” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-rkxKFcodU&t=334s). In other words, it’s not that simple, and Physics cannot explain the mechanism.
In a direct and concise manner, I propose a paradigm shift starting with us homeopaths, as many still practice this medicine with a mechanistic-scientific culture, inherited from the aforementioned revolution and Cartesianism.
There are other ways to perceive what we do, and we can take responsibility for the debate on different terms and at another level. Consider the work of Ken Wilber, for example, with his various propositions of levels of consciousness and reality. This could be an interesting strategy: seeking new authors, not only homeopaths, to theoretically translate the existence and meaning of the “void” that eludes the sciences of the old paradigm.
I believe, perhaps due to my personal background, that no significant intellectual, cultural, or theoretical problem can be properly resolved without a first extensive chapter of study; a deep dive into theory (from the Greek theoria, contemplation, way of looking).
I challenge my colleagues to study and adopt, even temporarily, other conceptual languages for understanding and explaining our medicine. Ken Wilber, Massimo Citro, Wolfgang Smith, are just a few names of great value in this regard (each, in their own way, offers theoretical models that go beyond modern scientism at some level), as well as the Spanish philosopher Maria Zambrano, who formulated the ingenious idea of poetic reason – an attempt to overcome the modern logical-scientific reason.
Zambrano speculates about the human capacity to know and learn through art, philosophy, and also science, not necessarily in the molds of the prevailing rationalism among us.
I think that congresses, debates, meetings, and publications on these ideas representing new paradigmatic models would greatly benefit the homeopathic community. An extensive and profound discussion that does not restrict itself to research and scientific validation of our medicine, but one that allows even the general public to access the most fundamental truths of Homeopathy through other means of knowledge and new forms of explanation.
For example, Dr. Denise Straiges recently published a thesis demonstrating the relationships between Hahnemann’s homeopathy and traditional Alchemy. Would it be very difficult to explain to the public that homeopathy transforms lead into gold? Would not symbolic language be more effective than the (restrictive and exclusive) scientific one? This is not abstraction on my part; it is precisely the opposite: using other means to translate the truth that justifies homeopathic practice.
It is time for homeopaths to take control of the conversation because, in general, we are the ones most capable of speaking about health and freedom, health and vibration, health and energy, health and emptiness, and more.
We must reintroduce the topics that are dear to us into a cognitive paradigm that can encompass the terms of this different equation. A paradigm that accepts the reality of intuition, for example, of personal experience, existential frequency, and many other elements often lacking in empirical phenomena.
Look at the work of Dr. Anthony Holland, who has been demonstrating for at least ten years how it is possible to destroy cancer cells with sound waves (in this TED talk, he summarizes his work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w0_kazbb_U&t=3s). Which current medicine can bring together, in the same conversation, healing and vibrational frequency? Do you understand what I am saying? The “ball is in our court.”
Modern scientism is experiencing cracks in its paradigm, and alternative approaches seem to make sense to a public hungry for genuine healing. The growth of holistic approaches, observed in various parts of the world in recent years, is not a coincidence.
So, why don’t we, homeopaths, take the lead on this?