By Tedd Koren, D.C.
I used to think that all vitalism meant was that there was a vital energy in all of us. I heard of life energy within: anima, elan vital, life energy, prana, chi, ki, life force etc. But there is more to vitalism than vague life energies:
‘Vitalism’...[signifies] recognition that the laws governing the living organism differ from those of lifeless matter. The organism is reactive, at all times coping with, and attempting to overcome, the stresses which impinge upon it from outside. It behaves purposively, the nature and form of its reaction being determined by the specific environmental stress encounters. It responds to challenge, which no aggregate or assembly of non-living substances can ever do. (Divided Legacy Vol. 4 xvii)
This does not mean that organic matter possesses unique features from inorganic matter, after all scientists are able to create "organic" molecules in a test tube; urea was synthesized about 100 years ago. But there is a great leap from organic to organism.
Chiropractic and other empirical disciplines recognize a "vital force" or "vitality" in the body which causes it to react to external stimuli. There is something going on inside all of us which causes us to respond and learn - things a mere collection of chemicals can never do. The main differences between empiricism and vitalism are as follows:
"Empiricism perceives the organism as reactive; the modes of reaction reflect the laws and regularities peculiar to the body as a living organism; they can be ascertained only by observing it in sickness and health. To Rationalism the body is not a reactive entity but a mechanism obeying the laws of such disciplines of chemistry, physics and mechanics."
"To Empiricism the symptoms are a sign of the body’s reaction, beneficial phenomena which should not be suppressed or eliminated. For Rationalism the symptom is intrinsically harmful...."
"Empiricism holds pathophysiological processes to be ultimately unknowable in that their precise nature in the patient at hand can never be ascertained...Rationalism holds pathophysiological process [to be] identical with processes observable in chemistry, physics..."
"It follows that, while Empiricism rejects the concept of "disease" and sees every patient as unique, for Rationalism the patient is the representative of a larger "disease." [For example, 100 people with lung cancer have 100 unique diseases which have some things in common but many other things not in common. Therefore empirical treatment of the patient would be tailored to that patient’s unique needs and would be different for each patient. Rationalism would consider all lung cancer patients to have the same disease and would treat them similarly.]
Empirical therapeutics seeks to strengthen the patient’s powers of resistance and compensate for the predisposition to become ill...Rationalism is far less interested in the body’s resistance or predisposition...in general, Rationalism is more concerned with the "disease" than with the host organism." (Divided Legacy Vol 4 xxvi)
Divided legacy strengthens chiropractic’s philosophical roots and should be required reading in every chiropractic college.
What's wrong, ashamed to be ahead of "accepted" scientific thinking? Scientists that spoke of cosmic rays were thought to be lunatics. Doctors that spoke of antisepsis were called quacks, Fleming was considered a crank and a fool. I suggest you read the editorial on homeopathy's microdilutions in Science entitled "When to believe the unbelievable."
Isn't it ridiculous to think that we know everything today? The things we defend today are going to be debunked in the next 3,4,5 years...some things we think of crazy today will become accepted "mainstream." Like chiropractic? Must we accept the narrow vision, defensive posturing and mechanistic philosophy of those that tried to destroy us?
Do you think chiropractic pioneers went to jail for ICD9 codes? For insurance billing?
As Hamlet said to Horatio: "There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
Tedd Koren, D.C., a 1977 graduate of Sherman . Dr. Koren can be reached on-line at TKOREN1@aol.com