Still’s Osteopathy – its roots and reasoning (3)


Chapter 3 – Method of reasoning

Still’s disregard for the allopathic medical industry of the time is so profound that he claims to have “obtained a mental divorce from them”. So having divorced himself from the generally accepted medical practice of the time, Still determines to undertake two distinct pathways to establish his new medical practice – Osteopathy. The first being an exacting study of the structures and functions of the human body, and the second to use reason to establish the very principles that explain the underlying and unchanging nature of the function of those structures.

In this way Still establishes himself as both empiricist and rationalist, thus combining the major competing schools of philosophical thought at that time, much as Emmanuel Kant was endeavouring to do in the world of ethics. In short bringing deontological thought to the primarily experimentally based utilitarian practice of medicine.

Still postulated that if we could establish through empirical facts the functional nature of the human body we could derive unchanging principles and a rational base for all treatment and management. This is arguably what makes Osteopaths different for every other forms of western medicine and is the very focus of this seminal text as will become clear as we progress through the work.

“The student of any philosophy succeeds best by the more simple methods of reasoning. We reason for needed knowledge only, and should try and start out with as many known facts as possible. If we would reason on diseases of the organs of the head, neck, abdomen or pelvis, we must first know where these organs are, how and from what arteries the eye, ear, or tongue is fed.”



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