21 October 2005

What is a Wesen?

A word Hahnemann uses a lot, which I'd never heard before, is the word "wesen." No English word completely captures the meaning of this word. The word represents the dynamic, as opposed to the material, aspect of a thing; these aspects are not actually seperable, but can be viewed as seperate entities for the sake of discussion. Additionally, the "wesen" of something is characteristic and essential to that thing. As a dynamic thing, it perpetuates itself.

According to Hahnemann, human beings, medicines and diseases all have "wesens". He refers to these "wesens" in the first 34 aphorisms of the Organon. The "wesen" of a human being is what "enlivens" the material aspect of the person, giving it the ability to sense what is outside it, to be active, and to preserve itself. The "wesen" of a disease, is the "suffering of the life force", which is reflected in the totality of symptoms exhibited by the patient. The "wesen" of a medicine is its "spirit-like power to alter the human condition and cure diseases"; each medicine's unique "wesen" is only perceptable by the symptom pattern it causes in a healthy individual. O'Reilly points out that, "the life force, diseases, and medicines are all operating in the same dynamic dimension."

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