Comparing Hippocrates and Hahnemann

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John Henry Clarke in A Lecture on Organon Medicine, wrote Hippocrates and Hahnemann: There are two books which stand in absolute pre-eminence over all other medical writings.

Aphorisms of Hippocrates, Organon of┬Hahnemann, the father of medicine sums up in eight books of aphorisms, numbering 422 in all the practical wisdom of his days in the art and science of medicine, and so true is his estimate of what he observed, and so sound his judgement, that his descriptions of diseases and their gravity, and his general rules of treatment have scarcely been bettered by writers who have come after.

Hahnemann in his Organon, has likewise chosen the aphoristic form as the vehicle for his teaching. In a series of 294 aphorisms he sets forth the whole duty of the medical man. Hippocrates is more the artist of medicine, who saw clearly and described truly what he saw. Hahnemann is philosopher as well as artist; no less practical than Hippocrates he goes down into the reasons of things in a way it was not possible for Hippocrates to do.

Let me quote a few of the sayings of the father of medicine.
“When the disease exists in all its vigor, it is necessary to use the most sparing diet”
“Old men are best able to bear fasting, middle-age persons bear it less easily, youths is still less ease, and children least of all. Of the last those especially who are of a lively and active disposition”.
Too much sleep and too much watching are equally injurious.
“Acute diseases come to the crisis in fourteen days”
The celebrated passage in which the homeopathic idea is stated does not occur in the book of aphorisms, but in another workattributed to Hippocrates.

Hahnemann quotes it in his Introduction.
“Through likes disease arises, and through like being made us of diseases are healed in the sick-through vomiting sickness ceases”

The difference between the two books.
Hippocrates opens his book with: “Ars longa, vita brevis”
Life is short, the art is long, the occasion is sudden, experience deceptive, and judgement difficult. Nor is it enough that the physician do hi duty, he should also see that the patient and his attendants do theirs, and that external things be well managed.”

Hahnemann’s exordium in his first aphorism
“The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health-to cure, as it is termed”
The second aphorism
“The highest ideal of a cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of the health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extent, in the shortest, safest, most reliable, and most harmless way, on easily comprehensive principles”

Between Hippocrates and Hahnemann there is the difference Between dim twilight and broad daylight. The difficulties of the doctor’s position remain much as Hippocrates described them, but Hahnemann has brought the fullness of light to bear upon the difficult places and has shown him a way through some of them. He has brought a new life, hope and confidence into the practice of the medical art.

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