Page images
PDF
EPUB

meaning, or (3) to a perversion of my meaning, and (4) to an assumption of ignorance on my part, when the exigencies of space or intention, rendered it unnecessary to enlarge on the question. As regards the first of these charges, so great a critic as Mill has clearly pointed out that the critic should always be as well versed on the views of his opponent as with his own. This, Mr. Picken appears not to be, as I shall point out later.

Now it is to be regretted that Mr. Picken should have laid himself open to such charges, as thereby, to a certain extent, a reflection is made on his justice, his accuracy and his acumen as a writer,

We all, I feel assured, value highly Mr. Picken's interest in our cause, but the cause is too sacred to admit of glossing over openings for error or misapprehension.

To begin, Mr. Picken sees fit to assume in his reply to my paper, "Physics and Medicine," that it will have to be admitted that we agree where I think we differ, and that we differ where I believe we agree, and begins his criticisms by challenging the assumption that all vital forces are in reality physical.

Herein Mr. Picken is right. I did think that therein we agreed, and now he comes forward and denies it. But how does he endeavor to prove this disagreement? Simply by insisting on a disassociation of terms when there is no disassociation of ideas, or by maintaining that a term expressive of a process is alterable when quantity-and therein may be considered latency, and not quality—is concerned. Now, he admits, with Tyndal, as of course I do, the essential unity of all forces organic and inorganic. He admits that the “forces of the human body are identical with those of inorganic nature.” Then he states: “To say, however, that vital forces and physical forces are in reality identical is not to say that vital forces are in reality physical." Now it has always been considered that things which are equal to the same are equal to one another, and certainly, as natural deduction from that truism, we may, with equal truth, say things which are like to the same are like to one another, and that applies to every and any feature of agreement, whether as to quality

a

or quantity.

Now, the gist of the whole question is this: Mr. Picken, taking a theological view of the question at issue, believes that to the spirit of God, the universal spirit, as he calls it, is all force due, whether that force be manifested in inorganic or organic matter, and it would appear that he considers the force as manifested in inorganic matter, organic matter, and even man himself, as more a

1 1

quantity than a quality question, and yet he seems, at the same time, to think what differentiates is the quality inhibition.

In some respects Mr. Picken's theory is similar to the vitalist's theory as to the origin of life, and in other respects it is dissimilar. The theory of the vitalists is that a vital force is imported into matter at the very moment the constituents of protoplasm are brought together, so that the living force of protoplasm is a power not inherent in matter, but is imported therein at the time of the coming together of its constituents. Now, the difference between this theory and Mr. Picken's, as I take it, is this: Mr. Picken sees the importation of this power, not at the formation of protoplasm, but at the very beginning of all matter and that the power with which matter is imbued is spirit, universal spirit. He thus makes the question a theological one. Now, the alternative theory of scientists is the physical one. Says Huxley, “Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen are all lifeless bodies. Of these, carbon and oxygen unite in certain proportions, and under certain conditions, to give rise to carbonic acid gas, hydrogen and oxygen produce water; nitrogen and hydrogen give rise to ammonia. These new compounds, like the elementary bodies of which they are composed, are lifeless. But when they are brought together under certain conditions they give rise to the still more complex body protoplasm, and this protoplasm exhibits the phenomena of life." When hydrogen and oxygen are brought together under certain conditions water is produced, having the property of aqueity; when oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen are brought together under certain conditions protoplasm is produced having the property of vitality. Now, he argues, as water with its quality of aqueity was the product of lifeless matter, so is protoplasm with its quality of vitality the product of lifeless matter. Now, I think Huxley could have done his subject more justice had he pointed out the fact that inorganic matter of which water is composed, although lifeless, is not inert, because produce water, with its quality of aqueity, so the centers of force in hydrogen and oxygen are rearranged under the electric spark to produce water, with its quality of aqueity, so the centers of force in the constituents of protoplasm are rearranged when they are brought together under certain conditions to form protoplasm, with its quality of vitality. It will thus be seen that Mr. Picken's theory also bears similarity to the physical theory, but the difference seems to be that the force in matter which scientists recognize as physical Mr. Picken recognizes as spiritual--the real difference resolving

the one

itself then into the question of arbitrary terminology. Mr. Picken's terms are therefore merely arbitrary, and his arguments against scientists relative to matter and motion apply with equal truth to his own propositions, and if the scientist is silent when questioned as to the nature of motion, so must Mr. Picken be silent when the like question is put to him as regards spirit. It is much to be regretted that philosophic writers should see fit to clothe their ideas in words that to the ordinary man seem to repel instead of attracting him. This is to be regretted the more, because never until the truths of philosophy, taking the word in its widest meaning, become infused into the mind of the general public, can we hope for a universal uplisting of the masses, beginning with the upper classes, with their general culture, and spreading to the true masses, the ordinary worker and toiler in the industries of the world. That such a popularizing of philosophic truths is easy of accomplishment can be shown in many ways. Locke, the father of English philosophy and

philosopher that has appealed directly to the ordinary educated man, wrote in language simple and appropriate. And while, with DeQuincy, I hold that we should never sacrifice clearness to simplicity, yet I maintain that as nature around us, nature in its commonest and simplest aspect, is the only guide to the highest thoughts, such thoughts and ideas can well be illustrated by everyday occurrences, and the commonest phenomena around us once they are understood. Surely all philosophers in the present day must recognize that so-called innate ideas can never arise ab intra; can only arise through sensible impressions, and although, through wide and deep reflection and association, coupled with sensible impressions, the most enchanting pictures, the most exquisite sensations, the loftiest ideas may be produced, we should ever bear in mind that they are the product of man's senses and relationship with the universe around us.

Dealing with Mr. Picken's criticisms in their order, I find that he makes the assertion that I think the theories of McLaughlin different from those set forth in his paper, the "Science of Homcopathy." What induced Mr. Picken to take up that idea, I am unable to say. Certainly, no words of mine could have been so construed. As a matter of fact, the theories set forth in the “Science of Homæopathy,” McLaughlin's work on immunity, and my own paper on “Physics and Medicine,” all bear a close similarity in that all three writers recognized that medicinal action, as well as disease action, are strictly analogous to certain physical processes in nature. My own views were the outcome of the study of medicinal action. McLaughlin’s, as he states, arose from his study of fermentation, while Mr. Picken's, I have little doubt, were the result of his philosophic studies. I moreover asked that readers of my own paper, read along therewith McLaughlin's work, as well as Mr. Picken's paper on the "Science of Homcopathy." Mr. Picken, as well as McLaughlin, as I understand, attribute-the former the action of the similar remedy in the cure of disease, the latter the evident self-cure of the patient with infectious disease, to the physical law of interference exhibited in the molecular structure of the living body. While I, although admitting that such a cure by interference may rarely happen, see in the cure by the similar remedy the substitution of a path for the disease through the body. One reason for not believing in the actual cure through an internal contraria contraries is that in a general disease, on account of the many and various functions and organs being disorganized, the system must present a very world of disturbance. It is well known in practical medicine that, although a disease may not be cured, yet the most prominent and dangerous symptoms may often be met and relieved. This may be done, I believe, because many vegetable remedies have a limited and well-defined path of action through the system.

I have just stated that the action of the similar remedy in disease may be looked on as acting up to the principle of substitution. This is a theory which has found favor with many leading homeopaths, but which has never been looked at in connection with a general theory of cure based on a law of nature. My second reason for doubting the theory based on the law of interference is, that I see in the theory advanced by me a law which holds good, not only in medicinal action but also in disease action as regards infectious diseases, in immunity, both natural and artificial, and also in racial immunity; it is the theory of environmental force, the grand theory of adaptation to environment-on which I hold that not only the law of evolution in regard to organic nature depends but the law also for the origin of species in opposition of Darwin's law of natural selection. That I should attack so eminent an authority as Darwin may appear ludicrous to many, but I cannot shut my eyes to truths which appear to me as the outcome of (1) medical action, (2) disease action, (3) disease immunity, (4) anti-toxin treatment, (5) drug habit (6) the power of environment. (7) Lamark's conclusions. Now, if I find the same law in nature influencing matter in so many and various ways, I must naturally conclude that there is in nature not a great diversity of laws but a marked unity. And it is this striking unity in the natural laws concerned that lead me to think I hold a truth, and also lead me to attack so celebrated an authority as Darwin. We should remember that, although the law of evolution is an established truth, yet that Darwin's theory of “natural selection” presents flaws here and there which all scientists have not been able to explain satisfactorily; hence, although Darwin is a great authority, yet his name in connection with his theory of “natural selection" cannot be held as sacred from criticism.

Lamark was the first scientist to perceive the power of environment. He says: “(1) That every change which is at all considerable and continuously maintained in the circumstances of each race of animals, effects in it, a real change in their needs. (2) That every change in the needs of animals necessitates other action on their part for the satisfaction of the new needs, and in consequence other habits. (3) That since every new need requires new action to satisfy it, it demands of the animal which experiences it, either the more frequent use of such a part as was formerly less used, so that it becomes considerably developed and enlarged, or the use of new parts which insensibly arise in the organism from the needs, by the efforts of its inner feelings, as I shall presently show from known

And so, to arrive at the true cause of so many different forms and so many various habits as are given in the animal world one must recognize that the infinitely-diversified, but slowly-changing circumstances in which animals of each race have successively been placed, have brought out in each race new needs and consequently changes in their habits.” Such were Lamark's views, which he condensed into certain laws which space forbids my quoting. Now, while Lamark clearly understood the power of environment, he could not see how the changes in environment occurred, and hence, not perceiving the true cause, he had to fall back on a theory which has some likeness to Darwin's "natural selection” in that he considered the changes or the desire for change as being inherent in the animals themselves, not from “natural sexual selection,” as Darwin maintained, but because the needs or the desires of the animal required them. The word besoin, or need, he makes to do service sometimes as need, and sometimes as desire.

Now, what I want my readers to understand is this: Organic life being the product of a certain environment, it is impossible for it to have a need or desire otherwise than those the product of the environment. As in the process of evolution organic life is developed,

facts.

« PreviousContinue »