Organon & Philosophy

Organon of Medicine History & Development

Organon of Medicine History & Development. Learn about the various editions of Organon written by Hahnemann and how they reflect the evolution of homeopathy as an art and science.

Dr. Hahnemann was able to verify the curative action of Cinchona bark by 1790. For the next six years he proved many drugs upon himself, his friends and family to verify the law of Similia. In 1796, he published his findings in Hufeland’s journal in an article titled ‘An Essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining The Curative Powers of Drugs and Some Examination of Previous Principles’.

When Hahnemann started practicing on the basis of the law of simila, he faced numerous difficulties. With increasing experience, his attitude towards disease, drug-actions, the method of testing their positive effects, the relation between the disease and the drug phenomena, and the mode of application and preparation of drugs began to take a definite shape. He felt the need to synthesize his thoughts and communicate them to other physicians.

Apart from the above mentioned article, he also wrote – Aesculapius in the Balance (1805); Medicine of Experience (1805); On the Value of Speculative System of Medicine (1808); Observations on the Three Current Methods of Treatment (1809). These works paved the way for publishing his magnum opus – Organon of Rational Medical Science, in 1810.

This book is written in aphoristic style (paragraphs with numbering) but there is continuity and logical sequence of thoughts underlying the sections. The book went through 6 editions in all. Five editions were published during the author’s life. The 6th edition was completed by Dr. Hahnmeann in 1842 but he passed away on July 2nd, 1843 before the 6th edition could be published. The last edition was finally published in 1921 due to the efforts of William Boericke.

Dr. Hahnmeann was a born searcher for truth and was always ready to modify his ideas to suit the facts. He had no hesitation in acknowledging his errors if fact and experience went against his principles.

Title of the Book.

The word ‘Organon’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Organum’, which means ‘instrument of knowledge’. The word Organon was first used by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) for his treatise on logic. Later, Franics Bacon (1561-1626), the English philosopher and statesman wrote a treatise on logic in Latin titled ‘Novum Organum’, wherein he urged upon his fellow men to follow the inductive method of reasoning. Possibly these works of Aristotle and bacon influenced Hahnmeann to name his book Organon.

In the first edition, Hahnemann named his book ‘Organon of the Rational Medical Science’. From the 2nd edition onwards, the title was changed to ‘Organon of the Healing Art’.

Various Editions of Organon of Medicine

First Edition

Published in 1810
Published from Torgau
Aphorisms – 271
Title – Organon of Rational Medical Science (Organon Der Rationellen Heilkunde)
Translated by C. E. Wheeler, in English, in 1913.

Below the title of the book there was a small couplet from Gallert’s poem –

The Truth We Mortals Need
Us Blest To make And Keep
The All-Wise Slightly Covered Over
But Did Not Bury Deep.

Just above the first aphorism was written ‘Organon of The Healing Art’. The first edition had no table of contents.

Second Edition

Published in 1819
Published from Leipzig
Aphorisms – 315
Title – Organon of The Healing Art (Organon Der Heilkunst)
Translated by Ernest George von Burnnon, in French, in 1824.

In the second edition the title of the book was changed. The Gallert’s poem was also replaced by the phrase ‘Aude Sapere’, which means ‘dare to be wise’.

Third Edition

Published in 1824
Published from Koethen
Aphorisms – 317
Title – Organon of The Healing Art (Organon Der Heilkunst)

No significant change.

Fourth Edition

Published in 1829
Published from Koethen
Aphorisms – 292
Title – Organon of The Healing Art (Organon Der Heilkunst)
Translated by Charles H Deurient, in English, in 1833

The theory of chronic diseases was included in the organon for the first time. In the 9th aphorism of this edition, Hahnmeann stated that the fundamental cause of all chronic diseases are ‘Chronic Miasms’ and in aphorism 72 he stated that chronic diseases are caused by ‘dynamic infection of chronic miasm’. Introduction to Organon proper was introduced in this edition.

Fifth Edition

Published in 1833
Published from Koethen
Aphorisms – 294
Title – Organon of The Healing Art (Organon Der Heilkunst)
Translated by Robert Ellias Dudgeon, in English, in 1849 and agin in 1893. Also translated by C. Wesselehoft.

This edition introduced two new approaches – Doctrine of Vital Force, and Doctrine of Drug Dynamization.

Sixth Edition

Published in 1921
Written in Paris
Aphorisms – 291
Title – Organon of Medicine
Translated by William Boericke, in English, in 1921.

This edition was published after the death of Dr. Hahnemann. In this edition many significant changes took place. The term Vital Force was replaced by Vital Principle and a new scale for potentization, 50 Millesimal scale was introduced in the sixth edition. Apart from these many other changes in the preparation, administration and repetition of drugs took place. Some of these changes were so stark that large number of homeopaths have not been able to accept this edition till date.

The book begins with a preface, table of contents, and introduction. Organon consists of 291 aphorisms in the 6th edition, whereas the fifth edition contained 294 aphorisms. The book can be devided in two parts –

A. The Doctrinal Part (§ 1-71)

B The Practical Part (§ 72 – 291)

The doctrinal part deals with the following concepts –

1. § 1-4: deal with physician’s mission, work, duties and responsibilities. Also the concept of cure is discussed here.

2. § 5 – 18: deal with the knowledge of disease and vital force.

3. § 19 – 27: deal with the knowledge of medicine.

4. § 28 – 69: deals with the knowledge of how to choose and adminsiter a remedy. What are the different methods for this (allopathic, antipathic, homeopathic)? What happens when two dynamic diseases meet in a body? etc.

Section 1 to 70 deal with Hahnmeann’s attitude towards disease, drug-action and the selection and administration of remdeies. The first part basically probes into 3 questions –

  • What is curable in disease?
  • What is curative in medicine?
  • How to apply the knowledge of medicine to the knowledge of disease?

The Practical Part of the book deals with the following concepts:

1. § 72 – 104: How is the physician to ascertain what is necessary to be known in order to cure the disease? Here Dr. Hahnemann gives the justification for dividing diseases into acute and chronic disease and outlines the method of case-taking for an individualistic outlook.

2. § 105 – 145: How the physician can gain the knowledge of pathogenic powers of the medicine? Here he gives the rules for proving the medicine upon the healthy human beings.

3. § 146 – 285: What is the most suitable method of employing these artifical morbific agents (medicines) for the cure of natural disease?

3a. § 164 – 263: deal with selection and mode of administration of remedies.

3b. § 264 – 285: In these aphorisms, homeopathic pharmacy and theroy of drug dynamization is discussed. Here Dr. Hahnemann gives the rules for finding the similarity between the drugs and the disease; the choice and the repetition of the dose; the preparation of drugs; the diet and regimen to be followed.

4. § 280 – 291: Here Dr. Hahnemann discusses the utility of the therapeutic agents other than drugs.

  • § 286-287 – Magnetism and Electricity
  • § 288-289 – Mesmerism
  • § 290 – Massage
  • § 291 – Bath

Thus we see that Hahnemann wanted to cover the whole field of medicine, all its variances and methods of application. The logical sequence of the aphorisms is unmistakable and the ladder like fashion in which the reader is taken from one logical answer to another in the successive aphorisms is remarkable. The aphoristic style of the Organon limits the scope for detailed discussion of many points but it has been amply made up by the judicious use of the footnotes in relation to the various aphorisms.

About the author

Dr. Manish Bhatia

- BCA, M.Sc Homeopathy (UK), CICH (Greece), MD (Hom)
- Associate Professor, Organon & Homeopathic Philosophy, SKH Medical College, Jaipur
- Founder Director of
- Editor, Homeopathy for Everyone
- Co-author - Homeopathy and Mental Health Care: Integrative Practice, Principles and Research
- Author - Lectures on Organon of Medicine vol 1, 2, 3. CCH Approved. (English, German, Bulgarian)
- Awardee - Raja Pajwan Dev Award for Excellence in the Field of Medicine; APJ Abdul Kalam Award for Excellence in Homeopathy Education
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