Preface – Fourth Edition – 1829
by Samuel Hahnemann
WERE that nature whose self-help in diseases is believed by physicians of the traditional school to be the incomparable healing art, a close imitation of which should he the physician’s highest aim, great Nature herself, i.e. the voice of ineffable wisdom of the great Artificer of the infinite universe, we should then feel constrained to be guided by this infallible voice, though we might be puzzled to understand why we physicians should, with our artificial interference by medicines, disturb or injuriously aggravate these presumably incomparable operations of nature’s self-help in diseases (vis medicatrix); but this is far from being the case! That nature, whose self-help was alleged by the traditional school of medicine to be the incomparable healing art and the only thing worth imitating, is merely the individual nature of the organic man, is nothing but the instinctive, irrational, unreasoning vital force subject to the organic laws of our body, which is ordained by the Creator to maintain the functions and sensations of the organism in marvellously perfect condition so long as the man continues in good health, but was not intended nor adapted for the restoration in the best manner of deranged or lost health. For should our vital force have its integrity impaired by injurious influences from without, then this force strives instinctively and automatically to free itself from the adventitious derangement (disease) by revolutionary processes, but these very efforts are themselves disease; they are a second different malady substituted for the original one. The vital force, I say, produces, in accordance with the laws of the constitution of the organism to which it is subject, a disease of a different sort, intended to expel the disease by which it was attacked, which it strives to accomplish by pain, metastases and so forth, but mainly by evacuations and the sacrifice of much of the fluid and solid constituents of the body, with difficult, often dubious, injurious, frequently even disastrous results.
Were it not that men in all ages were aware of this imperfection, and the not infrequent inadequacy of these blind efforts of the instinctive unreasoning vital force in its attempts at self-help in diseases, they would not have longed so much nor so zealously striven to assist the suffering vital force, so powerless to help itself efficiently, by the employment of better remedial means in order to terminate the morbid process in a more speedy and sure manner, thereby restoring the wished-for health as speedily as possible, – in a word, they would not have exerted themselves to discover a healing art.
But as what has hitherto been termed healing art was a mere (imperfect) imitation of those unhelpful, useless, not infrequently injurious efforts and operations of the instinctive, unreasoning vital force (misnamed nature) when left to itself in disease, it will, I think, be conceded that before me the true healing art was not discovered.
But that homoeopathy is this healing art, which had hitherto been sought for in vain, its fundamental principles teach, its performances prove.
Kothen; January, 1829