Curantur Versus Curentur

IHA Transactions, 1896 page 90-95


B. Fincke, M.D, Brooklyn, NY

Just one hundred years ago, in 1796, Hahnemann published in Hufeland's Journal, an essay on a new principle of exploring the healing forces of the medicinal substances in which he proclaimed for the first time the great discovery of the homeopathic law of 1790 in the following words: "Every efficacious medicament excites in the human body a kind of a disease of its own, a disease the more characteristic, distinguished and violent, the more efficacious the remedy is. We should imitate nature which sometimes heals a chronic disease by another coming to it, and administer in the (especially chronic) disease to be healed, that remedy which is able to produce another most possibly similar artificial disease, and that disease will be healed Similia Similibus. " (Lesser writings).

This is the first time that the formula Similia Similibus appears.

Likewise in 1805 (Hufeland's Journal, 26 II, p. 5 and 6) he says: "and if even here and there a wise man ventured to oppose with a few gentle words, and to propose a Similia Similibus, yet his contradiction was not respected." Both times the "curentur" is conspicuous by its absence.

This copula appears no sooner than in 1819, in the introduction to the second edition of the Organon, p. 29, in the sentence: "choose in order to heal gently, speedily, certainly and lastingly in every case of disease, a medicine which can produce by itself a similar suffering (homoion pathos) as it is to heal (Similia Similibus Curentur!)."

This sentence was repeated unchanged in the introduction to the third edition of the Organon, p. 1, in 1824, and in the fourth edition, p. 51, in 1829. In the fifth edition, p. 62, in 1833, the same sentence is also repeated in the introduction without the formula which just before has been given again in the words: "according to the only natural healing law: Similia Similibus Curentur."

It is, therefore, quite true, that Hahnemann repeatedly used the latin formula with the copula "curentur" but only in the introduction to the Organon where it is transcribed from one edition to another, however not in the text, and it is significant that not earlier than in 1819 he used the word "curentur," whilst at the first proclamation of the new principle in 1796 he added to it the simple motto: Similia Similibus. The explanation is in the construction which the "Nestor" of Homeopathy puts upon this subject that "Hahnemann always wrote the formular Similia Similibus Curentur, thereby giving an imperative and mandatory turn to the phrase, " (Dudgeon).

Hahnemann was satisfied at first with the motto Similia Smilibus, but when he in his progress met a host of adversaries, the motto assumed an imperative mood. But nowhere in the text of his Organon, in its five editions, can be found the Latin sentence with the "curentur," when he speaks of the homeopathic natural law. Hence the writing of "curentur" is by no means binding in the reverence due to the master, and consequently needs no popularizing "for the approaching centennial celebration of the enunciation of this therapeutical rule," because it fails of its object. On the contrary, judging from the use of Similia Similibus for the new principle proclaimed a hundred years ago, this motto would rather recommend itself to the celebration approaching as well as to the inscription intended for the monument to come. [The Hahnemann Monument, erected in Washington DC, 1900. — JW] This motto might be considered to indicate the wider range of the Hahnemannian principle since nothing in the world moves and has its being except on this universal principle of gravitation. Sir Isaac Newton's law of motion: "Action and reaction are equal and contrary" finds its proper application in the science and art of healing by adding to the Hahnemannian original writing Similia Similibus the copula "curantur." As the positive mood is employed in that grand law of motion, so it should be also employed in the grand law of healing, the homeopathic law as is already the popular usage. "The indicative mood," says the old grammarian Zumpt, "is used in every sentence, the contents of which are enunciated as a matter of fact."

Now the principle of Hahnemann is indicated by the incontrovertible proposition, that like cures like and admits of no more doubt as the third law of motion, because it is a fact confirmed by an experience of its application in homeopathic practice for the last hundred years. The use of the copula "curantur" seems indeed not quite appropriate since the original meaning of "curare" is "taking care" and in a remoter sense "attending to the sick." In this sense the copula would be better replaced by "sanantur" as far as the principle of healing is concerned. But Hahnemann's sagacity preferred the "curentur" because it included in the acknowledgment of the philosophical principle the therapeutical rule which enjoined the physicians to attend to the sick according to the newly proclaimed principle. For this reason the term "curantur" recommends itself in preference to "sanantur" as is confirmed by a sentence of Prop. II, 1. 59 (61), "Onmes humanos sanat medicina dolores"— the medicine heals all pains. The Newtonian law, expressed in the indicative mood, shows the difference why Hahnemann used the conjunctive. "The conjunctive mood is generally used when a sentence is predicated, not as a fact, but as a conception," and "furthermore the conjunctive is predicated independently as the form of the conception in order to express the will. It, therefore, in the second or third person of the praesens takes the place of an imperative mood," says Zumpt. This is precisely the meaning of Hahnemann's "curentur" and following these rules perhaps unconsciously the expression of "curantur" has been preferred very generally as a broad declaration of principle against the imperative admonition of its application.

Returning to the above mentioned law of motion, it might be objected that the word "equal" has nothing in common with the "simile" in Homeopathics. But a little reflection will show their intimate relation. The "Simile" belongs to a series, the highest degree of which, the simillimum can be nothing else than the "equal" of Newton, for no two things or actions can be the same, only equal, as they are more or less similar and attain to the highest degree as "simillima." Hahnemann was no doubt pretty clear on this point; as appears from two utterances, first in 1810, and last in 1825.

In the first edition of the Organon, 1810, §13, the following sentence is found: " gleichartige Symptomen dieser Arznei heben Symptomen gleicher Art in dieser gegebenen Krankheit auf," i. e. "symptoms of equal kind of this medicine cancel symptoms of equal kind in this given disease;" and in the first volume of the chronic diseases, 1828, at the end is said: "for between idem and simillimum there is no intermediate for anyone who can think, or in other words, between idem and simile can only be the simillimum. Isopathic and equal are equivocal expressions, which, if they are meaning anything reliable, can only signify simillimum because they are no idem." Last but not least, we find in the fifth edition of the Organon, 1833, in the note to §56: "Some would like to create a fourth mode of applying medicine in diseases by Isopathy, so-called viz.: healing a present equal disease by the equal miasm. But granted that this could be done, which indeed would have to be called an inestimable invention, it would yet effect the cure only by a simillimum opposed to a simillimum, since the miasm is given to the patient only highly potentiated and thus consequently as it were altered."

From all these quotations it is evident, that the equal of Newton and the simillimum of Hahnemann are different expressions of the same concept, and hence "das aller wahren Heilung von jeher zu Grunde liegende Naturgesetz" i. e., this homeopathic natural law lying at all times at the foundation of all true healing (§26) is the third law of motion in the application to Medicine. Hahnemann, though giving no definition of simile, says decidedly and repeatedly, that symptoms of disease are healed by remedies which can produce the similar symptoms on the healthy. Now it stands to reason that the more similar the symptoms are, the greater will be the chance of healing and consequently the most similar or the simillimum or the equal must be most successful in restoring health to the sick. In this sense the equivocal expression ago aequale, or equal, receives its proper value in philosophy as the highest degree to which things and actions can become similar, sort of the idem.

It should, therefore, recommend itself to the motto Similia Similibus, first proclaimed by Hahnemann in the afterwards generally adopted form: Similia Similibus Curantur, and thus finally lay the ghost of that ever recurring controversey about a matter which after all is not of the importance which is attributed to it.

Ceterum censeo macrodosiam esse delendam.