This is Samuel Hahnemann’s – the founder of Homeopathy – first statement from a translation of his 6th Edition of his Organon of Medicine, the main text book which describes the practice of homeopathy and its approach to healthcare.
If this statement describes what the physicians role IS, his footnote talks about the physician’s role IS NOT. This was his way of being critical as to how the medicine of his day was practiced.
In the first part of his footnote, Hahnemann cautions about speculating on the nature of diseases, indulging in theories or constructs which may not be true or even useful:
“His mission is not, however, to construct so-called systems, by interweaving empty speculations and hypotheses concerning the internal essential nature of the vital processes and the mode in which diseases originate in the interior of the organism, (whereon so many physicians have hitherto ambitiously wasted their talents and their time);”
He also says that such speculation is often an unnecessary abstraction and may not even be reflective of the cause of the disease, which is hidden. Explaining diseases in this way may on the surface sound intelligent, but in the end, it only has value if it can be applied to help the individual resolve their suffering:
“nor is it to attempt to give countless explanations regarding the phenomena in diseases and their proximate cause (which must ever remain concealed), wrapped in unintelligible words and an inflated abstract mode of expression, which should sound very learned in order to astonish the ignorant – whilst sick humanity sighs in vain for aid.”
Help and cure
Here, already at the first aphorism, you get a real sense of the pragmatic side of Hahnemann, and his focus on the end game: helping people improve their health. Although people may sound educated because of the theoretical jargon they use, he says this is just ‘mere talk’, and its a healers ability to take action to help their clients which is what is important:
“Of such learned reveries (to which the name of theoretic medicine is given, and for which special professorships are instituted) we have had quite enough, and it is now high time that all who call themselves physicians should at length cease to deceive suffering mankind with mere talk, and begin now, instead, for once to act, that is, really to help and to cure.”
Hahnemann reminds us that despite what different theories or even our own speciations may say about the nature of disease, the mission is to restore health.