Homeopathic Theory of ‘Vital Force’, and Modern Scientific Understanding of ‘Vital Processes’
The concept of ‘vital force’, on which the whole philosophical system of homeopathy is believed to be built up on, stands as a formidable stumbling block in its way of harmony with modern science and its methodology. The theoretical basis of Hahnemannian homeopathy is based on the some what spiritual oncept that there is an abstract ‘vital force’ alien to the physical body, existing as a part of ‘universal force’ which enters the body and possesses to enliven it, and leaves it with the advent of death. Homeopaths percieve diseases as disordered states of this ‘vital force’, and believe that it is only on the level of this ‘vital force’ that the cure of diseases might take place.
It is not here intended to convert the ongoing scientific discourse of therapeutics into a dialogue between the divergent philosophical world outlooks of spiritualism and materialism, and hence, I do not here endeavour to question somebody’s right to believe in the existence of a ‘universal’ ‘vital force’ as such. But, at least when dealing with a science of therapeutics, we have to reach a consensus to replace the concept of ‘vital force’ with a more rational expression, ‘vital process’, if we could discuss homeopathy as a system of scientific medicine. ‘Vital force’, what ever it may be, expresses itself in a living organism only through ‘vital processes’, the complex chains of interconnected molecular interactions known as biochemical pathways. It has been already explained that a state of disease is created through some or other deviations in these normal biochemical processes. Hence, according to our scientific perspective, every pathology starts as an error at the molecular level. We cannot proceed further with our scientific discourse on homeopathy, without a consensus at least about this fundamental position of modern science. Scientists belonging to various disciplines, engaged in the study of various natural phenomena, adopt such a practical stand even if ideologically they happen to be absolute spiritualists. It is impossible even for a most ‘spiritualist’ nuclear physicist to engage himself in his particular research activities, viewing the atoms, sub-atomic particles or forces as mere ‘spiritual entities’. The homeopathic theoreticians also should at least follow this example. They should be able to deal with phenomena of life, disease, therapeutics, and medicinal substances primarily as material substances and processes. It would be better for homeopathy at large, if these ‘masters’ and ‘gurus’ of homeopathy could confine themselves to a scientific vocabulary, refraining from mixing it up with unnecessary spiritualistic and philosophical jugglery of words such as ‘vital force’ and ‘non-corporeal’ ‘dynamic power’, while talking about a scientific theory of therapeutics.
Even if we subscribe to the concept of ‘vital force’ at the ideological level, we have to answer the question: “How that vital force expresses in a living organism?” Only as molecular level ‘vital processes’. Using medicinal agents of material qualities, we can deal with these ‘vital processes’ only at the material level. It is an absurdity to think that as physicians, we are dealing with an ‘immaterial’, ‘spirit-like’ ‘vital force’, that too, using instruments and medicinal agents of purely material nature. If homeopathic physicians were dealing with ‘immeterial dynamic forces’, instead of using ‘material medicines’, they could have done it better through prayers, ‘pujas’ and other occult practices!
The argument that homeopathic drugs act not by their ‘material qualities’, but by an ‘immaterial’ medicinal force, called ‘dynamic force’ is nothing but absurdity. Would these theoreticians agree that this so-called ‘dynamic power’ of individual drugs’ are determined by the specific ‘material’ properties of their constituent molecules? It is undeniable fact that this so-called ‘dynamic power’ varies from drug to drug, depending up on their molecular level structure and composition. If we were dealing with an immaterial ‘vital force’ and ‘dynamic power’, why should we use all those different types of drugs existing in homeopathy? While talking about ‘immaterial’ ‘spirit-like’ ‘dynamic healing power’, ‘liberated’ through potenization, which can be carried in corked bottles and swallowed as sugar pellets, we should be aware, how much homeopathy would become a laughing stock in the eyes of scientific community. If we still continue to claim that there is a ‘spirit-like’ force in homeopathic medicines, independant of their material qualities, a ‘force’ that is soluble in water and alcohol, can be transferred from bottles to bottles, acts on the ‘vital force’ when applied on tongue, lost when subjected to physical forces such as heat or electricity, how can we engage in a scientific dialogue? What type of ‘liberated’ ‘non-corporeal ‘dynamic force’ is we talking about?
We have to be well aware that the theory of ‘vital force’ was adopted by Hahnemann from the vitalistic philosophy then existed in Europe. Since modern material science was only in its rudimentary stage, he was not able to explain the phenomena he observed, in scientific terms. Due to inescapable historical limitations, he was naturally compelled to accept some sort of vitalistic explanations for his new inventions.
Now, we live in a new era of enlightenment, totally different from that of Hahnemann. Modern science has unravelled the molecular processes of life and diseases to such a level that we can logically explain the fundamental principles of homeopathy on a new scientific basis. It is an unpardonable injustice done to the great genius of Hahnemann, if we still continue to stick on to his obsolete unscientific explanations. We should exhibit the intellectual courage to mercilessly discard the evidently irrational parts of Hahnemannian homeopathy. Same time, we should safeguard its inner kernel of the great natural therapeutic law of ‘similia similibus curentur’ and therapeutic application of ‘molecular imprints’, which our master called ‘potentized’ drugs. We should bravely replace the concept ‘vital force’ with scientific understanding of ‘vital process’.
As long as ‘classical’ homeopaths continue to cling to their unyielding stand that homoeopathy is a ‘complete-in-itself’ philosophical and therapeutic system, beyond any scope for change and development, I find no chance for a meaningful scientific dialogue to happen. Claiming homeopathy to be a ‘science beyond science’, or ‘post-modern science’ may help somebody to appear fashionable, but they should realize that all these exercises contribute a lot in enstranging this great therapeutic system from main stream science.
The main challenge we face when attempting to offer a scientific explanation for homeopathy is that these homeopathic theoreticans make the situation more and more complicated by mixing up the basic concepts regarding life, disease, drugs and therapeutics, with their idealistic philosophical speculations and unscientific spiritualistic world outlook.
From the very onset, we have to adopt following fundamental factors as the basis of our intellectual inquiry:
1.Life exists only through ‘vital processes’, which are complex chains of molecular level biochemical interactions purely material in nature.
2. A state of pathology is created by some or other deviations happening in these biochemical processes due to molecular errors of pure material nature.
3. Therapeutics is possible only through materialistic intervention in these biochemical processes.
4. Medicines are the material means for such an intervention.
5. It is due to the peculiar material properties of medicines that they are able to intervene in biochemical processes.
Therapeutics is a totally materialistic activity. If we do not agree upon at least this much of fundamental propositions, no meaningful discussion will be possible regarding scientific understanding homeopathy.
Since we are now competent to offer a scientific molecualar interpretation of ‘similia similibus curentur’, and ‘potentization’, the main fundamental principles of homeopathy, there is no need for relying upon the obsolete vitalistic explanations and speculations of Hahnemann, based on the concept of ‘vital force’ and ‘non-cprporeal’ ‘spirit-like’ ‘dynamic medicinal force’. Instead of repeating the unscientific concept of ‘dynamic medicinal force’, we can now logically explain the homeopathic potencies on the basis of ‘molecular imprinting in water’.
Retorting to a senior homeopath friend of mine, who was trying to explain potentization and homeopathic therapeutics on the basis of the concept of ‘molecular imprinting’, the moderator of ‘minutus.com’, the famous internet group of classical homeopaths, asked:
“Have you got ‘scientific evidence’ of avogadro’s constant? What molecular science has got to do with Homeopathy? Please explain what we know? Where is your scientific evidence? Your response is NOT according to Hahnemannian Homeopathy! What has 12 C got to with it? Remedies are DYNAMIC and each reacts with the vital force! It is this reaction that is critical and not the reaction of two remedies with each other. Is there any evidence to confirm your statement?”
Wonderful! He is asking for ‘scientific evidence’ for Avogadro Constant! A classical homeopath asking for ‘scientific evidence’ for something is a great paradox! They are people who always question the value of ‘scientific evidences’ , declaring that ‘science is unscientific’.
Most funny thing is, these people are never bothered about the ‘scientific evidences’ for those aphorisms in organon! They never ask for ‘scientific evidence’ for ‘miasms’ or ‘vital force’ or ‘similia similibus curentur’. They never ask for ‘scientific evidence’ for all those nonsense theories preached as part of homeopathy. They never ask for ‘scientific evidence’ for all those occult practices done by so-called homeopaths in the name of CAM!
They want ‘scientific evidence’ only when some body talks about some scientific ideas. They instantly will jump in to prove ‘science is unscientific’, and that ‘homeopathy is ultimate science’! They want ‘scientific evidence’ only to establish the ‘unscientificness of science’!
Jean Perrin got nobel prize in physics in 1926 for his exhaustive work on avogadro constant. It was this French Physicist who in 1909 proposed naming the constant in honor of Avogadro. Perrin won the Nobel Prize for his monumental works in determining the Avogadro constant by several different methods.
The Avogadro constant is named after the early nineteenth-century Italian scientist Amedeo Avogadro, who, in 1811, first proposed that the volume of a gas (at a given pressure and temperature) is proportional to the number of atoms or molecules regardless of the nature of the gas.
In chemistry and physics, the Avogadro constant is defined as the ratio of the number of constituent particles (usually atoms or molecules) in a sample to the amount of substance n (unit mole) . Thus, it is the proportionality factor that relates the molar mass of an entity, i.e., the mass per amount of substance, to the mass of said entity. The Avogadro constant expresses the number of elementary entities per mole of substance and it has the value 6.02214129(27)×10raised 23 mol. Changes in the SI units are proposed that will change Avogadro’s constant to to exactly 6.02214X×10 raised 23 when it is expressed in the unit mol.
Whole scientific world utilizes this avogadros constant in all calculations in physics and chemistry, and it is found correct.
But our ‘classical homeopaths’ will not believe in avogadro constant without ‘scientific evidence’! They think the swedish academy was mistaken by wrongly awarding nobel prize to Jean Perrin without enough ‘scientific evidence’ for his works on avogadro constant! I can only pity for these people alling themselves ‘classical homeopaths’, for their ignorance or closed mindedness, whatever it may be.
It is a sheer waste to discuss science with this class of people. Nobody can convince them anything. But the sad thing is, we cannot ignore these intellectual morons, since they represent homeopathy before the general community and making it a subject of unending mockery.
”Remedies are DYNAMIC and each reacts with the vital force!” This is the learned statement of the moderator of mintus group. He is not bothered about the ‘scientific evidence’ for that ‘universal truth’, even though he cannot accept avogadro constant since it lackes ‘scientific evidence’! If something is said in ‘organon’, or uttered by the ‘master’, it could be accepted as ‘ultimate science’- no ‘evidence’ needed! These are the people who represent homeopathy before the world. Most of the influential section of homeopathy try to propagate homeopathy that way. That is the reason why the scientific community perceive homeopathy as quackery and placebo.
I do not intend to argue with these old horses. I am sure, they cannot be convinced about the science of homeopathy. My hope is in the new generation of science-educated, academically trained and qualified young homeopaths. Only they can understand the language of science.
’Remedies are DYNAMIC’. Remedies interact with ‘dynamic’ vital force. Disease and cure are ‘dynamic’. Drugs act due to ‘dynamic drug energy’. These are very common phrases in ‘classical’ homeopathic paradigms.
What is exactly meant by ‘dynamic’? This word comes from the metaphysical concept of ‘dynamism’. Dynamism is a metaphysical concept conceived by Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) and developed into a full system of cosmology, totally unacceptable to modern science and scientific method. Dynamism in metaphysical cosmology explains the material world in terms of active, pointlike forces, with no extension but with action at a distance. Dynamism describes that which exists as simple elements, or for Leibniz, monads, and groups of elements which have only the essence of forces.
According to ‘dynamic’ view, interaction between elements takes place without contact, through modes or even harmonics of motion, yielding all phenomena in the Universe.
Various treatments of Dynamism can be found in the works of Baruch Spinoza and Henri Bergson, and also, long before them, Parmenides, the Atomists, and Plotinus. In more contemporary works, elements of Dynamism also developed into process philosophy, via Alfred North Whitehead and others, as well as systems theory via Ludwig von Bertalanffy and William Ross Ashby. Immanuel Kant was another philosopher who helped the development of the theory of dynamism.
Hahnemann’s explanations of homeopathy were obviously influenced by the philosophy of ‘dynamism’. Modern proponents of ‘energy medicine’ theories also explain homeopathy on the basis of concepts of ‘dynamism’.
‘Forces’ existing free from matter, and ‘matter acting at distances without any material contact or interaction’ is an idea very dear to all practitioners of occult healing arts. The idea of a ‘medicinal force’ that can be ‘freed’ from drug substance, and ‘transferred’ to water of sugar of milk, that can act on organism in ‘dynamic way’- all these come from ‘dynamism’.
Without freeing homeopathy from the influence of ‘dynamism’, we cannot hope it to be accepted as a scientific medical system.
The concept of ‘dynamic force’ is entirely different from the concept of ‘force’ in modern science.
In modern science, ‘force’ exist and act as a function of ‘matter’. There is no ‘force’ without matter. ‘Force’ acts through carrier particle. Actually, force particles are minute forms of matter itself. There are ‘four’ fundamental forces in nature- strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force and gravitational force. All these four fundamental forces exist and interact though carrier particles of specific qyantum states. Exactly, all these four fundamentel forces are different quantum states of same force, which is the ‘motion’ associated with ‘matter’. There is no ‘matter’ without ‘motion’, or motion without matter. Matter exists in motion, and motion is form of existence of matter. Motion is expressed as ‘space’, and ‘matter’ is expressed as ‘mass’. There is no ‘mass’ without ‘space’, or ‘space’ without ‘mass’.
According to dynamism, ‘force’ exists and interacts free from matter or space. Dynamic drug energy can exist free from drug substance. Drug force can act from a distance, without any ‘material’ involvement.
As per scientific world outlook, any object in this universe represents a dynamic equilibrium of matter particles and force particles in a particular ratio. The term ‘energy’ is used to refer to the quantity of ‘force particles’ contained in an object higher than required to maintain its ‘matter-force’ equilibrium, and hence, could be transferred to other objects, making them to ‘move’ or ‘do work’. Matter particles that carry very high ‘extra’ quantity of ‘force particles’ are known as ‘energy particles’.
Moderator of mintus group asks: “What molecular science has got to do with Homeopathy”?
This question reflects the gross scientific ignorance. A total lack of modern scientific understanding of physiology, pathology and therapeutics. Such a question will come only from a ‘classical homeopath’ groping in the darkness of a 250 year old knowledge environment.
For them, life is ‘dynamic vital force, disease is ‘deranged vital force’, drug is ‘dynamic energy’, therapeutics is ‘dynamic’. Everything is ‘dynamic’, not ‘material’.
What about the fees? Will they be satisfied by ‘dynamic’ money as fees? NO! They need material ‘money’ for his ‘dynamic healing’ work! Because, they know they cannot live with ‘dynamic forms’ of food and drink! Their cars will not run on ‘dynamic’ petrol!
According to these people, drug substances are ‘converted’ to ‘energy’ and ‘transferred’ to rectified spirit or sugar of milk during potentization. And this ‘dynamic drug energy’ acts upon the vital force to effect a cure.
Mechanical energy applied during trituations may break the intermolecular bonds in the drug substances, and they would be divided maximum up to the level of constituent molecules and ions. Further division to atomic level will not happen, since nobody can generate such a high amount of energy by ‘trituration’ to break the very strong chemical bonds between atoms inside molecules. Imagining about ‘conversion’ of matter into energy by potentization reflects utter ignorance of fundamentals of physics.
More over, medicinal properties of a substance is decided by the structure and chemical properties of constituent molecules of that drug substance. If those molecules were divided further into atoms or subatomic particles as some people imagine, the medicinal properties would have been lost.
For example, the medicinal properties of nux vomica is based on the structure and properties of various chemical molecules contained in it, such as strychnine, brucine etc. Strychnine is C21H22N2O2. Brucine is C23H26N2O4. If these molecules were divided into atomic level during trituration or potentization, there will be only carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen remaining. Both strychnine and brucine contain same atoms. It is the difference in their stuctural level oranaization that give them different chemical and medicinal properties. If substances are divided into atoms during potentization, potentized brucine and strychnine will not differ in medicinal properties, since both of them contain same atoms.
Logically, there is only a single way by which the medicinal properties of complex drug molecules could be transeferred to medium during potentization. It is ‘molecular imprinting. Individual molecules and ions being part of the drug substance are subjected to molecular imprinting during potentization. These ‘molecular imprints’ of drug molecules are the exact active principles of potentized drugs, which act as therapeutic agents by binding to pathogenic molecules and thereby removing molecular inhibitions.
There is no such a thing called ‘drug energy’ that can be liberated from drug substances and ‘transferred’ to another medium abandoning the drug substances. Medicinal properties of substances come from the ‘structure’ of individual constituent molecules contained in drug substances. In the absence of ‘drug molecules’, there cannot be any ‘drug energy’. During potentization, through the process of molecular imprinting, the supramolecular structure of water is changed, and it is this ‘changed water’ or molecular imprints that act as therapeutic agents. It has nothing to do with ‘liberation’ or ‘transfer’ of drug energy. Only molecular imprinting.
“What molecular science has got to do with Homeopathy”? Homeopathy is all about molecular science. Classical homeopaths will continue to grope in darkness until they realize this most vital fact about homeopathy. They will go on spinning ‘ultra-scientific’ theories, and proving the ‘unscientificness of modern science’. That is the pitiable situation, which discredits homeopathy.
I know majority of homeopaths today believe in ‘vital force’, ‘dynamic drug energy’ and such other ‘metaphysical’ concepts, as they were taught and trained to think that way. I know majority of homeopaths strongly believe homeopathy cannot be explained in terms of modern science or biochemistry, but only by ‘vital force’. I know majority of homeopaths do not agree with my scientific views and concepts regarding homeopathy. I prefer to stay away from them, as I know well that I cannot change their beliefs and prejudices through an argument.
Let me make one thing very clear: I am not talking or trying to convince that prejudiced ‘majority’ who are eager to ‘disprove’ science. I am talking only to the ‘minority’ of homeopaths who expect science and biochemistry can explain and prove homeopathy. I am talking to that minority section of scientific minded homeopaths who want to learn and practice homeopathy as a MEDICAL SCIENCE- not a BELIEF HEALING SYSTEM.
If anybody want to establish that SCIENCE cannot explain VITAL PROCESS, but only METAPHYSICS can do it, it is their right to believe so. I prefer not to argue with such people, as I have learned from experience that I cannot effectively interact with those who do not understand the language of science. I am not interested in arguing about metaphysics- but only in discussing homeopathy in the light of science and biochemistry .
I do not think METAPHYSICS is any way necessary for understanding LIFE. I do not think BIOCHEMISTRY is ‘unable’ to explain life processes. There may be a lot of things yet remaining to be explored by science. Phenomena not explained today will be explained tomorrow by science. That will be an unending process. METAPHYSICS has no role in it. Metaphysics always try to hide itself in the dark areas where light of science has not reached yet. Once the light reaches there, METAPHYSICS will change their hideouts to whatever dark areas remain.
ONLY BIOCHEMISTRY can explain LIFE, DISEASE and CURE rationally, logically and scientifically. Biochemistry is not mere ‘aid’ or ‘help’ to metaphysics. As BIOCHEMISTRY advances more and more, each and every question will be answered. During that process, superstitious BELIEFS and METAPHYSICAL concepts associated with understanding LIFE will gradually lose their ground. History of SCIENCE and human knowledge is actually the history of gradual and systematic defeat of metaphysics and superstitious beliefs.
The phenomena we call VITAL FORCE are actually the effects of complex MATERIAL biochemical molecular processes happening in the living organism. Once these molecular processes cease, vital force also ceases to exist. Concept of a VITAL FORCE that ‘animates’ the body, ‘rules’ the vital processes, leaves the body during death, and exists ‘free’ from material body is the contribution of pre-scientific SPIRITUALISTIC philosophy.
MIND is nothing but the functional product of neuro-chemical interactions happening in BRAIN and central nervous system. SENSATIONS are the chemical processes in nervous system produced by external or internal physical stimuli. DREAMS and DELUSIONS are the products of chemical processes happening in neurons in the brain. DISEASES are molecular errors happening in essential biochemical pathways. MENTAL SYMPTOMS are reflections of of molecular errors in the brain. CURE is the removal of molecular errors. DEATH is the complete irreversible disruption and stoppage of vital biochemical processes.
THERE IS NOTHING ‘IMMATERIAL’ IN LIFE, DISEASE, CURE- AND IN HOMEOPATHY.