Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WHAT IS A LAW?

When it is stated by old-school physicians that a certain remedy cures in certain cases although the symptoms produced by the remedy upon the healthy human organism are similar to those of the disease, but that the cure does not result from anything homoeopathic in the relationship between the remedy and the disease, we are forced to think that the speakers have lost sight of the real meaning of the word law. For there was no denial of the facts. A law is merely the formulation, in strictly accurate language, of the occurrence of certain facts under certain conditions.

It is a positive statement that when the conditions are present such results will follow. But the explanation of the modus operandi is never included in a law, and to refuse to admit the existence of a law because of inability to understand the way in which the processes involved in the subject take place would if applied to science generally, soon send us back to barbaric ignorance. What, for instance, would be thought of the mental state of a student who would refuse to accept the well-known law of gravitation, because he cannot understand what is in the matter to cause two bodies to attract each other, etc? Or, what progress could a student make in chemistry if he scouted the law of precipitation because he cannot see why atoms should rearrange themselves so as always to produce a compound insoluble in the menstruum employed.

We might extend these illustrations indefinitely, and then we would only have succeeded in representing the status of the man who, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the action of law in medicine, refuses to believe in the existence of such a law, simply because he does not see how it can be. In every department of science, the effort is made to bring all the observed facts into a relation which can be expressed by a law. This is even so in medicine excepting therapeutics, and it is most unfortunate for real progress in the healing art that such should be the case.

To bring the observations made in disease, and also in the investigation of drug action on the body, to a mathematical expression is not to be even hoped for, but much can be done in rendering the evidence in favor of the law of simillia so positive that it cannot be put aside. But old-school men are not going to do this; the work must be done by the upholders of the law and must be done in such manner as will compel the assent of all not wilfully blind. There has been a great deal written about unreliable symptoms—the law must not be judged by their failure, but whether the fixing of a positive guide to the application of the law is to be left to clinical tests, or to a reconstruction of our Materia Medica under conditions furnished by the advanced scientific knowledge of today, is a question worthy the consideration of the wisest minds.

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