What is science?
The potentization problem
During the last 20-25 years, a conflict has been
taking place at different levels and in different forms between a more
natural-scientific and a more spiritual-scientific tradition in medicine.
1980 two works dealing with the conflict were published in connection with
the founding of the first anthroposophical university in Witten-Annen in
first was Grundlagen einer essentialen Wissenschaftstheorie by Helmuth
Kiene (Urachhaus 1980). In the book the author argued against the fruitfulness
of contemporary theory of science as a help in understanding the conflict.
He meant that it was possible and necessary to develop a paradigmfree theory
of science based on conceptual realism and tried to show how this could
be done on the basis of the work of Rudolf Steiner.
second book was Der Wirksamkeitsnachweis für Arzneimittel. Analyze
einer Illusion by Gerhard Kienle, Rainer Burckhardt et al (Urachhaus
1983) and dealt with methodological problems in clinical medical research
from an anthroposophical point of view.
During the same years I wrote two articles on
related themes in the then newly founded Nordisk tidskrift för antroposofisk
medicin (Nordic Journal for Anthroposophical medicine).
first article; What is science? was a
small academic paper on some aspects of the roots of the conflict between
the two traditions in medicine.
second article; The potentizing problem,
was the result of one year of work doing civil (military) service in the
form of a project on anthroposophical medicine together with a friend,
who is now an anthroposophical doctor.
I have not seen some of the points of view put forth in the articles elsewhere,
neither then, nor later, I have translated and edited the them slightly
to make them available to a somewhat greater audience.
The first article tries to show that you don't
have to discard of the paradigm concept, but how it is also possible to
use the concept, as it was developed by Kuhn and has later been developed
further by Törnebohm at the University of Gothenberg, as a startingpoint
for an understanding of some of the roots of the conflict. It also draws
heavily on the thoughts of Dieter Lauenstein in his Die vier Denkmodelle
des Abendlandes (Urachhaus 1976), for which I am very grateful.
main point of the article is that it shows how you can understand the "spiritual
scientific" and the "natural scientific" traditions and the relation between
them as a reflection of the structure of the sense-organisation (5 ones)
of the human being. As a consequense of this it leads to the question how
a science, striving to based on man in his totality in the form of an "anthroposophy",
can be developed without doing justice, not only to the "aristotelian"
and "platonic" views of "the spiritual scientific tradition", but also
to the understanding and perspectives developed by the "atomists" and "pythagoreans-mathematicians"
of "the natural scientific tradition".
The second article tries to sketch and outline
some of the basic problems facing you, when you try to understand the process
of potentization, from the double perspective developed in the first article.
great development has taken place in the research field on homeopathy,
as far as I know, since the article was written. There has been some uproar
that soon faded away in New Scientist in 1987-8 around the work of Benveniste,
Davenas and others in Paris and other places. A Documentation Project on
Research in Homeopathy and The Berlin Journal on Research in Homeopathy
was initiated by prof Joachim Hornung of the Free University in Berlin
in 1991 but was closed down some years later because of shortage of funding.
Righetti in Switzerland has however done a very good job collecting, going
through, summarizing, evaluating and making an overview of the whole research
field (Forschung in der Homöopathie, Göttingen: Burgdorf 1988).
the research still mainly seems to stand on square one, greatly as a result
of the problem to understand the potentizing process theoretically and
the basic problem of the unpredictable reproducibility of the researchresults
in experimental environments.
necessity to develop research in the field further, partly following the
demands of the developing jurisdiction within EU in the field of "alternative
medicine", has also prompted a cooperation between different anthroposophical
medical and scientific institutions to find at least the best reproduced
experimental system, that could serve as a model for further research.
result of the project was presented last year to the working group, and
pointed to the use of mustard seeds in an experimental system, as the one
with the best documented reproducible results.
research group, more rooted in the homeopathic tradition, is trying to
develop an understanding of the potentizing problem based on an understanding
of man as an electromagnetic being, and organizes regular small informal
work draws important inspiration from the work of among other Gerhard Resch
(Dr) and Viktor Gutmann (Prof of chemistry at the Technical University
of Vienna), who in 1987 published an english translation of their book
Scientific Foundations of Homeopathy (Barthel and Barthel Publishing in
great inspiration still seems to be sadly lacking for the research in the
the articles will at least contribute to some new thoughts on the problem.
in Februari 1994
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