Homeopathy 2014; 103(02): 161
DOI: 10.1016/j.homp.2013.11.002
Letter to the Editor
Copyright © The Faculty of Homeopathy 2013

Homeopathy and phenomenology: response to David Levy

Tom Whitmarsh
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
18 December 2017 (online)

Response to David Levy

I am grateful for the interest shown by Mr Levy in my paper.[ 1 ] I am glad that he acknowledges that ‘homeopathy and phenomenology share some common ground’. I do, though, take issue with the view that is expressed, that only a hermeneutic phenomenological analysis following Heidegger and his pupils (like Gadamer) can be useful to understand what is going on in homeopathy and what the homeopathic viewpoint can bring to the wider field of medicine and healing people in the future.

It is certainly the case that Husserl acknowledged Heidegger's point that complete bracketing of all influence at the start of an investigation is impossible and Husserl's later writings moved far towards the position of his former assistant. There is an extremely large number of strands of phenomenology which have appeared since Husserl formulated it in modern times.

If there is any commonality in these ways of thinking, it is Husserl's injunction to foreground and pay attention to ‘the things themselves’. The hermeneutic strand of Heidegger is just one view, albeit a very well known and popular one, but its relevance is constantly open to debate. Heidegger introduced the concept of ‘being-in-the-world’.

This concept and phrase was taken up by Merleau-Ponty and developed, so that following the path trodden by Merleau-Ponty in the development of a modern phenomenological view which is where the paper treads, is in effect acknowledging Heidegger's point. This seems to me to be the most fruitful way forward for the growth of homeopathic influence in medicine as a whole.[ 2 ]

We need to take what Hahnemann says in the Organon at face value and not confuse it with what we think he ought to have said or how we think he ought to have interpreted his actions. The kind of analysis made in my paper is quite a basic phenomenological one following Husserl, but it is an accurate description of what Hahnemann actually wrote. Flowing from a phenomenological outlook and realising that homeopathy sits clearly within an ongoing Western philosophical tradition (very possibly flawed, according to some schools of thought), can spark a creativity that could re-enlighten medicine via homeopathy.

It is heartening to read at the end of Mr Levy's letter, that ‘suitably applied, phenomenology and its many variants, including hermeneutic phenomenology, has the capacity to reveal multiple constructions of illness rather than one reductive reality’ and I am pleased that my work has stimulated such a response.