AvdM: In our investigation of what is scientific about homeopathy, did we cover all relevant fields or was there anything else?
AV: There sure are a lot more similarities and overlaps.
Let’s take categorizing: making categories is a scientific enterprise in order to be able to ‘map’ the outside world.
AvdM: Which is by definition diverse, onetime and unique.
AV: And as such impossible to deduce general characteristics from. To do that one must first observe, collect data and then put phenomena with similar ‘objective’ characteristics, what we call ‘facts’, in categories. It means these phenomena have enough in common to put them in the same group. The boundaries of these groups are rather arbitrary, depending on the mutual agreement in a certain scientific paradigm.
AvdM: I remember you gave a very funny example of this in The Charm of Homeopathy21 where examples of possible categories were: Edible or Inedible animals or Animals that are in the collection of the Emperor and Animals that or not in the Collection of the Emperor.
AV: Funny, isn’t it? But I didn’t invent these categories; they existed once and were taken seriously. The point I wanted to make is that categories aren’t absolute. They are the result of a temporary agreement. Scientists call this the development of science. This means that as they discover more, they correct their former mistakes. All that is fine as long as one realizes what one is doing. Then the awareness that our knowledge isn’t absolute but rather a reflection of our stage of understanding gives us a more realistic perspective.
AvdM: As you used to say in class: “You can do whatever you want, as long as you know what you’re doing”.
AV: I’m happy you remember that part of my lectures! I often worried the students would drown in the volume of information that was poured over their poor heads during those five years.
21 Anne Vervarcke, The Charm of Homeopathy, pp. 3940
AvdM: Well, my homeopathic training wasn’t what I expected: it was 100times more. It is nearly impossible to know what adventure you are starting when signing up for homeopathic training.
AV: I know. It happened to all of us.
Now, these categories can be diverse, big or small and serve different purposes. For instance, the categories: ‘Creatures on land and Creatures in the sea’ or ‘Animate and Inanimate beings’ or ‘Minerals, Plants, Animals, Humans’ or ‘Visible and Invisible22 beings’ or ‘Human and Nonhuman’. Dethlefsen makes vertical categories on the base of similar qualities instead of horizontal categories based on socalled objective facts. There are many possibilities and their plausibility depends on shared consensus. They are not absolute nor do they represent ‘the’ reality as such. They are constructs of our mind. The underlying idea in all these is that there are some similarities between the members of the same group, but the choice of which similarities are selected is arbitrary.
AvdM: Similarities again! We bumped into similarities when discussing communicating and now categories are based on similarities between phenomena.
AV: You are right. I used to rack my mind over the question where else the Law of Similars was functioning because of my conviction that the laws in homeopathy must operate in the outside world as well. Until one day I realized that it is the fundamental law because it is everywhere. Without the Law of Similars, communication, education, symbolizing, categories and science would all be impossible. So it is the basic law underlying everything in human life.
AvdM: I see. To continue with our topic on categories; not all is that arbitrary. In biology, for instance, we have taxonomies,
22 Thorwald Dethlefson, Esoteric Psychology, (Oerprinicipes van de werkelijkheid), pp. 7076
which are generally agreed upon.
AV: That is precisely what I said. In science there are general accepted categories. Some adjustments have been made recently because DNA research discovered mistakes in the works of classical scientists like Pliny or Dioscorides. In homeopathy we have only now entered the stage of making categories: we first observed and collected data for two hundred years and for the past 25 years categories are agreed upon. So far we mostly borrow the categories from the scientific world, but the homeopathic community is in the process of establishing the boundaries.
AvdM: The information on the right side of the quadrant.
AV: Yes and so far it seems to be a good idea to add this information to the bulk of the data that comes from the left side of the quadrant. The main homeopathic pillar is the repertory, which is based on symptoms from provings, which are nothing but the detailed and exact report (not distorted or generalized to fit in the map) of the subjective experience of the person who took the substance. This is unique for homeopathy! No other healing system works with these. But the categorizing of the data is a right side scientific practice and in that way we finally incorporate this neglected aspect in our healing system.
AvdM: It seems that homeopaths sometimes are more scientific than they realize!
AV: One last remark on the science of homeopathy: whereas other scientific disciplines have more or less clear boundaries, homeopathy doesn’t. We have just looked at some research from the fields of physics, psychology, philosophy, religion, epistemology, NLP, taxonomy, informatics, and found that there are overlaps with homeopathy in all of them.
AvdM: One of the reasons the homeopathic student shouts to his despair: we have to know everything!
AV: I know and we haven’t even talked about chemistry, biology, anthropology, linguistics, medicine or therapeutics; yet and all those fields come into play into the homeopathic daily practice as well. But you got the main point: homeopathy has its central philosophy and theory, otherwise it would be impossible to manage, but it flares out in all directions.
AvdM: A guarantee to never get bored!