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Sep 14, 2013

Kent And Hahnemann

 Kent is not a Hahnemannian: Differences Between 
Kent and Hahnemann

G. S. Hehr, M.B.B.S., D.P.M.

(Originally Published in British Hom. Journal as "Was Kent a Hahnemannian?", Vol. 73, No. 2, Re- edited by Dr R.S.Mann after consultations with Dr. G. S. Hehr) 

Kent has been hailed as a true disciple of Hahnemann.1 There should be a reassessment in light of the following contrast between the view of Kent and Hahnemann:

On “authority” and “experience”

KENT: “We must begin by having respect for law ... Let us acknowledge the authority.”2

“… and medicine today, outside of homoeopathy, is a medicine of experience…It is necessary that the exact and proper position of experience should be realized  … Experience has … only a confirmatory place. It can only confirmed that which has been discovered by principle…Experience leads to no discoveries … One who has no doctrines…imagines he discoveries by his experience”.3

HAHNEMANN: “Medicine is the science of experience…”4

“The true healing art is in its nature a pure science of experience …”5

“…the complete true healing art, can never be the work of self satisfied ratiocination…, but that the requisite for this … are only to be discovered  but due attention to nature by means of our senses, by careful honest observations and by experiments conducted with all possible purity and in no other way6

“I demand no faith at all, and do not demand that anybody should comprehend it. Neither do I comprehend it; it is enough that it is fact and nothing else. Experience alone declares it, and I believe more in experience than in my own intelligence.”7

“But what and how much …can be determined by no speculative reason or unreason, but experience alone must determine…and in the domain of facts there is no appeal from experience…”8

On relation of skin symptoms to internal malady

KENT: “But this very scientific ignorant doctor has made a failure: he has driven what was upon the surface and harmless into the innermost precincts of the economy and the patient is going to die as a result of scientific ignorance.”9

HAHNEMANN: “The diseases … springing from such a one-sided destruction of the chief skin symptom (eruption and itching) which acts vicariously and assuages the internal psora (which destruction is erroneously called ‘Driving the itch into the body’)…”10

“All miasmatic maladies … are always present as internal maladies … before they show their local (skin) symptoms.”11

“… when the development of the (internal) venereal disease has been completed, only then diseased nature endeavors to mitigate the internal evil and to soothe it,  by producing a local symptom…”12

“…some wretched casuists have considered as resulting from driving back of the poison out of the chancre into the interior body…”13

On psora

KENT: “Psora is the beginning of all physical sickness. Had psora never been established as a miasm on the human race, the other two chronic diseases would have been impossible. All the diseases of man are built upon … it (psora) goes to the very primitive wrong of the human race … that is the spiritual sickness from which … the race progressed into … the true susceptibility to psora…”14

HAHNEMANN: “…the ailments and infirmities of body and soul … (if they do not belong to the two venereal diseases, syphilis and sycosis) are … manifestations of (psora).”15

“In Europe and also in other continents … only three chronic miasms are known…”16

“….and indeed so many that at least seven eights of all chronic maladies spring from it (psora) … while the remaining eighth spring from syphilis and sycosis, or from a complication of two of these three … chronic diseases, or (which is very rare) from a complication of all the three of them….”17

On vitalism

KENT: Hahnemann could perceive this immaterial vital principle. It was something he arrived at himself, from his own process of thinking (but all historians mention that it was Joseph Barthez, b.1734, d.1806, who introduced the term “vital principle”18). 

There was paucity of individual ideas at that time… but Hahnemann thought much, and by thinking he arrived at the ideas contained in this (i.e. the 9th paragraph of the 5th edition of the Organon), which only appeared in the last (i.e. 5th.edition of 1833).”19

(Allusion to “vital force” appeared in the Chronic Diseases20 published in 1828, and in the fourth edition of the Organon that we shall refer shortly, Kent substitutes “simple substance for “immaterial vital principle” in the paragraphs subsequent to the one sited above – vide reference 19. This new expression appears to be Kent’s own coinage. Imputation of “much thought” to Hahnemann appears to be Kent’s projection of his own thinking, the result of which was the new expression. Hahnemann’s views on reasoning and speculation are clear in reference 8).

KENT: “…simple substance is endowed with formative intelligence…”21

HAHNEMANN: “… the instinctive, irrational, unreasoning vital force (instinktarige, verstandlose. keiner Uberlegung Fahige .. Lebnskraft -- this could also be translated: instinctive, unable to reason/understand, without capacity for reflection) 22 (the contrast between Kent and Hahnemann over the attributes of vital force is obvious from these words)…

“…unreasoning, merely animal vital force (die verstandlose, bloss aminal ische Lebenskraft).”23

On bacteriology

KENT: “Hahnemann did not adopt any such theory as bacteriology”.

HAHNEMANN: “… the cholera miasm … grows into an enormously increased brood of those excessively minute, invisible creatures …”24 (How else could one have described bacteria at that time!)

Why was Kent so often wobbling off the pivot? Perhaps it was not for nothing that Jouanny wrote:

“The second trap is to do what certain absent-minded homoeopathic doctors do, namely to consider only the symptoms of the patient in his reaction to his disease, and in particular his psychic signs. This was the attitude of Kent and his spiritualistic school which went so far as to say that the pathognomonic signs of the disease have no importance in the selection of the homoeopathic drug.”

“This is a philosophical attitude which makes homoeopathy into a theology, and considers man to be made only of the soul. There is a great danger here…”

“This attitude has practically destroyed homoeopathy in America where it was at one time a flourishing discipline. It is now practiced by a few esoteric doctors."

“One can say that this attitude is not in conformity with the methods set out and defined by Hahnemann, because generally the ‘psychic symptoms’ taken into consideration by the followers of Kent, are not experimental changes in the mental behavior of a patient, but the psychological characteristics of susceptible types of individuals. This is the result of the subjective interpretation of the experimenter and the patient. These doctors select the homoeopathic drugs on the basis of psychic symptoms … such a practice can be justifiably criticized …”25

Kent’s homeopathy is not necessarily always Hahnemannian. As Campbell recently put it : “Nevertheless, it does not take a very detailed study of the history of homoeopathy to show that modern practice actually differs in quite significant ways from Hahnemann’s own practice. In both England as well as America, for example, the influence of J.T.Kent, who imported certain ideas derived from Swedenborg, has been paramount since shortly after the turn of the century”.26

Hahnemann’s distinction between the responses of the animate and the inanimate; his view about adaptive responses of the organisms”, 28 his stress on the value of signals in biology;29 his almost foreshadowing of “the law of initial value” of Joseph Wilder,30 his near modern views on nutrition31 and his suggestions for psychological exercise32 are all missing from Kent’s writings. One feels constrained to ponder how far the words of Inglis (on relation of Galen to Hippocrates) would apply also to the relation of Kent to Hahnemann.

“Ostensibly by the Hippocratic School, he was to subvert its teachings. Hippocrates, Galen admitted, had lead the way … ‘He opened the road, I have made it possible’ … Galen was able to impose his views on how the road should be followed; and as a prolific writer, he saw to it that they were published.33 


1.    Kent was a Swedenborgian, and he can be accused of including the fundamental concept of mystical correspondence between spirit world and humans to Homoeopathy. Which distract the Homoeopathic philosophy from Hahnemann’s “Rationality” to Kent’s “Metaphysical”.
2.    This shift from basic nature of reality of human system compel the Kent to start unrealistic and unbalanced emphasis on “Mind” or “Mental Symptoms” or “Mental Origin” of every disease. Hahnemann is realistic and balanced in his approach in an individual case of sick, he search for the totality where is actually lies but Kent arrange the “Mind” always on the beginning of a case. Kent pushed the basic methodology of Homoeopathy towards “Irrationalism”.
3.    On Miasm, Hahnemann is certain about three different basic causes of diseases, Psora, Sycosis and Syphilis but for Kent, Psora is only basic cause of all the diseases, including two other miasms too.  
4.    Hahnemann always talks about the “gentle restoration” of the sick with only mild aggravations, but Kent admitted his was to cure with severe and long homoeopathic aggravations.
5.    Kent underlined the return of all the past symptoms, eliminations and exteriorization (developing skin lesions etc.)  in a case is a good indication and path towards cure, whereas Hahnemann marked them as organism’s defense or reaction against wrong prescriptions and excess of doses.
6.     Dr Kent may have a good, efficient and ardent homoeopath but his concepts and theories vary from Dr Hahnemann on most of the basic understandings of Homoeopathy which make differences in approach, methodology for treatment of a patient.
7.  So accepting Kent as a true disciple of Hahneman, as Kent himself claims, undermines the value of Hahnemannian theory and concepts of Homoeopathy. We must need to read and practice Homoeopathy as a Hahnemannian methods and Kentian Methods, with their respective theories, concepts and differences from each other.


1 Kanjilal et al – An Appeal to the Homoeopaths of India to Save Homoeopathy. Hahnemannian Gleanings 1979,XLVI,471
2 Kent J.T. – Lectures on Homoeopathic Philosophy. P.19,Chicago : Ehrhart & Karl,  1954.
3 Ibid – P.43.
4 Dudgeon R.E. – Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann. P.439, New Delhi: Swaran (reprint of New York; Willian Radde, 1852 edition)
5 Hahnemann  S. – Organon der Heilkunst, P.7, Dresden: Arnold, 1819.
6 Ibid – P.15 -16.
7 Dudley P ed. – The Chronic Diseases by Samuel Hahnemann, P.124, f.n. New Delhi, Jain Reprint
8 Ibid –P.325
9 Kent J.T. – Lectures.P.27
10 Dudley P. – The Chronic Diseases, P.17.
11 Ibid – P.32.
12 Ibid – P.36.
13 Ibid – P.36 f.n.
14 Kent J.T. – Lectures.P146.
15 Dudley P. – The Chronic Diseases, P.8.
16 Ibid – P.9.
17 Ibid – P.14.
18  Castiglioni A. – A History of Medicine, P.586, New York: Alfred Knoff, 1958.
19 Kent J.T. – Lectures.P.76-77.
20 Haehl R. – Samuel Hahnemann: His Life and Work. P.136, New Delhi, B.Jain Reprint.
21 Kent J.T. – Lectures.P.79.
22 Hahnemann  S. – Organon der Heilkunst, P.IV, Dresden and Leipzig, Arnold, 1829.
23 Ibid – P.146.
24 Hehr G.S. – Bacteriology and Homoeopathy.Br.Hom.J. 1982, 71,62,64-5.
25 Jouanny J. – Essentials of Homoeopathic Therapeutics, P.39, Laboratories Boiron, 1980.
26  Campbell A.C.H. – Editorial, Br. Hom. J., 1980, 69, 3.
27 Hahnemann  S. – Organon der rationallen Heilkunde, P.5-8, Anm.  Dresden, Arnold, 1810.
28 Dudgeon  R.E. – Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann. P.62, Para 289-290.
29 Hahnemann S. – Fingerzeige auf den homoopathischen Gabrauch der Arzneien in der bisherigen praxis. Neues Journal der practischen Arzneikunde von Hufeland 1807, 43.
30  Dudgeon R.E. – Lesser Writings of Samuel Hahnemann. P.34.
31 Hehr G.S. – Hahnemann and Nutrition. Br. Hom. J. 1981,70,208-12.
32 Hehr G.S. – Self awareness and Homoeopathy, Br. Hom. J. 1983, 72, 90-5.
33 Inglis B. – Natural Medicine, 0.18. London, Collins, 1979.

The compiler expresses his gratitude to “Institut fur Geschichte der Medzin der Bosch Stifung”, Stuttgart, for their generosity in supplying Xerox copies of many paper and microfilms of all editions of Organon, without which the paper could not have been completed. 

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