Where is the evidence that Kent actually proved the new remedies? Are they published? And why are the drug pictures so thin and generalised. In my view, our assumption that he did prove them is based upon belief, rather than knowledge. Does belief of this kind have any place in a therapy that claims to be rational and scientific?
Yes, Kent was a great homeopath, but that does not place him above the kind of criticism he was very keen to level at others.
Let us look at the remedies. There are 26 of them. Only 7 of them seem or are known to have been fully or partially proved (Kali ars, Natrum sulph, Zinc phos, Alum sil, Cenchris, Ars sulph flav and Calc sil). 7 out of 26 is about 26%, which is not very convincing evidence is it? Yet of these 7, Kali ars was never proved (Kent admits this on p.126); Natrum sulph was proved; Zincum phos may have been proved, Cenchris was certainly proved; Alum sil Kent claims to have been `proved and used clinically by the author for many years (p.15). If we look at the number of pages of these remedies and thus the number of symptoms we find an interesting picture. Only 7 of them have more than 10 pages. Most have 5-7 pages of text. Vespa was not proved and has 1 page, Wyethia was not proved and has 1/2 page, Ferrum iod was not proved and has 5 and 1/2 pages, Caulophyllum was not proved and has 1/2 page, Calendula was not proved and has 1 page, Barium iod has 3 1/2 pages and is clearly unproven, ditto Aurum iodide with 3 pages and Aletris with 1 1/2 pages The front-runners are Kali ars 11 pages, Kali sil 10 pages, Zinc phos 11 1/2 pages, Cenchris 16 pages, Ars sulph flav 12 pages, Alum sil 11 pages, Calc sil 15 1/2 pages.
Only one remedy listed (Cenchris) gives the names of the provers and the days on which certain symptoms appeared. If they were all proved then why didn't he give the same account as he did for Cenchris? Why single that out for special treatment?
Based on the above it seems quite clear that there is great uncertainty about the proving claim. It is therefore perfectly reasonable at this stage to assume that the bulk of these remedies were not proved by Kent as was previously claimed. Where he got the data from is anybody's guess and is unknown at this point with any certainty. Presumably he built them up from his own ideas and from clinical experiments. Fine. That is making homoeopathy up as you go along. But it stands in stark contrast with Kent's own advice to others on this subject. Here are some quotes from the Great Man himself on this very subject. They are all from the Lesser Writings / New Remedies (Indian edition):
'The admission of clinical data into our Materia Medica must be done with the greatest caution...and should always be marked...the hasty and inconsiderate adoption of clinical symptoms is certainly an evil; and if pursued to any great extent will render the Materia Medica unreliable.'(p.217)Few homeopaths would disagree with these high sentiments.
'Though some of the best symptoms now in use are of clinical origin, as a general rule they cannot be considered as certain and reliable as the pathogenetic.' (Ibid)And again, this is perfectly reasonable.
'By thorough and careful work we will some day have a complete Materia Medica whose every symptom will have been repeatedly verified. The indeed, will our art become the exact science predicted for it.' (p.218)He appeared to show some hypocrisy in his dealings with others on this issue and yet used and recommended remedies which were not proved, but which he had built up from a 'building-block approach': it is surely no coincidence that they are all Kalis, Aluminas, Natrums and silicates, iodides and phosphates. It seems obvious that he has built them up from chemical remedies known to be important -- iodides, silicates, aluminium salts, etc.
One problem is that people tend to fervently and blindly BELIEVE Kent and that leads to an unhealthy sense of outrage when he is attacked. They refuse to accept any criticism of the man. That is a weak, foolish and indefensible position to adopt. Kent is not a sacred cow or icon. He has been elevated by 'believers' to a high status that he does not seem to deserve, and which does great harm to homeopathy. Maybe we should try to separate the myth, belief and fantasy from the facts about the man. We should be far more critical of these who have become icons of the movement.
This is what Kent has to say on this topic:
'There is nothing that destroys a man so fast in the scientific world as conceit. We see in old-fashioned science men who are puffed up and corpulent with conceit... extensive knowledge makes a man simple, makes him gentle... a little knowledge makes a fool of a man, and makes him think he knows it all..' (Lectures on Philosophy, p.184)Again, this is perfectly reasonable. Except that it might ring less hollow if Kent himself did not appear to be as puffed up with his own certainty and self-importance in exactly the way he describes here.
'Experience has a place in science, but only a confirmatory place...experience leads to no discoveries?' (Lectures, p.40)What on earth is he talking about? Surely experience is the root foundation of the whole of homeopathy, from Sam's time right down to the present-day? Without experiment there would be no homeopathy. In relation to dogmatism I say that Hahnemann's master was experiment. I see I am not alone in thinking this...
Aphorism 25 of the Organon praises what '...pure experience, the sole and infallible oracle of the healing art, teaches us...'. Also in the Preface to the 1st edition of the Organon he states that none of his conclusions should be '...accepted unless confirmed by experience...' (Dudgeon/Boericke translation, 1921, Organon of Medicine, combined 5th/6th edition, p. xiii).
Thus it is very clear that he regarded experience and experiment as being vastly superior to 'theoretical medicine', which he scathingly calls 'speculative ideas' in his Preface to the 2nd Organon: '...the splendid juggling of so-called theoretical medicine, in which a priori conceptions and speculative subtleties raised a number of proud schools... the art of medicine was merely a pseudo-scientific fabrication, remodelled from time to time to meet the prevailing fashion.' (ibid, p.xv).
In Aphorism 6, he bemoans the 'futility of transcendental speculations which can receive no confirmation from experience..' (ibid, p. 32)
And, as Dr Krauss candidly states in his Introduction, 'Hahnemann was, in all essentials, a flawless experimenter.' (p. xxiv). He goes on, 'The era of scientific medical experimentation begins with Hahnemann and nobody else. Scientific to the core, Hahnemann experimented scientifically for scientific observation...' (ibid, p. xxvii)
Finally, Hahnemann states in the Preface to the 2nd Organon: 'The true healing art is in its nature a pure science of experience, and can and must rest upon clear facts and on the sensible phenomena pertaining to their sphere of action.', and that it '...dares not take a single step out of the sphere of pure, well-observed experience and experiment, if it would avoid becoming a nullity, a farce.' (ibid, p. xiv)
Thus I offer these remarks as some justification for the view I presented. By using the word 'experiment' I did not mean to imply that means 'do your own thing' or 'homeopathy without principles'. But it is true that Hahnemann started out with very little in the way of principles, and those he ended up with, were entirely based upon his experiments.
I would also venture to add that Kent was either meaning something else completely, or that he was talking some weird kind of nonsense, when he said that 'experience has no place in science'.
Author: Peter Morrell, MD.