Author: Virgil Seutter
Date:     October 8, 1997
Parent Node:

8.1  Chiropractic Philosophy: Expressing an Idea  (8.1)

8.1.1. The ability to examine the philosophy of chiropractic is not possible without discussing the theory. Both are interrelated, and yet, both are confused as separate elements to the same thing. The subluxation theory defines a mechanism and the philosophy (theory) of innate function attempts to define why it works, not necessarily how it works.

8.1.2. The predicament is understandable. Caught in the mechano-engineering model of scientific inquiry, it was a leap of faith from the mechanistic constructs of thinking into a cognitive realm that science was not prepared to grapple as a valid construct. Science was still looking at the pieces, rather than the whole.

8.1.3. Chiropractic is not alone in the challenge for reconceptualization. Other disciplines wrestled with the constraints of conceptual impasse. The cognitive sciences also had to deal with the limitation of the reflex arc as an extension of behaviorist theory. The reflex arc was too limiting (as it is for chiropractic), that human mental function (language) is not imposed from without the organism but originates from within (8.1.3). This material/cognitive dimension of communication is probably more appropriate within the purview of cognitive science than it is within a chiropractic format of discussion. It is, however, within this frame of reference that chiropractic has retained the Cartesian dualist concept in its philosophy as a preemptive statement to the relationship of disease (as a physical state) and the mind/nervous system (cognitive) as an interrelated function.

8.1.4. Perhaps an analogy is needed to convey the idea that what is interpreted as literal truth may, in fact, contain all sorts of meanings not originally intended as axiomatic but provisional, as simple guidelines for future interpretation and understanding. The fervor over "innate intelligence" (and vitalism) is one such example of a metaphorical description that has assumed the proportions of a literal truth. Those arguments assume a biblical dogmatism in which metaphor and parable can be interpreted in different ways. Perhaps it is no more frustrating than Job's metaphorical plight to seek answers from an abstract mind in determining his relationship to his creator when he says in Job 23:8-9, "I go forward, but he is not there (Id, Ego, stratagem); and backward, but I cannot perceive him (visual); On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him (logic); he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him (abstract, creative)." None of this would make sense without the findings of neuroscience that identify regions of the brain in relation to function and the denial mechanism found in split brain personalities after brain injury (c.f. "Neil's Brain). Perhaps the frustration of the sages might be appeased. Perhaps this illustrates that while some truths are self-evident, other truths must wait for a chronological maturity before recognition, or, more often than not, methods of inquiry must be devised to uncover that truth.

8.1.5. The question for chiropractic is what methods of inquiry might be devised in order to accommodate a philosophy that implicates a communicative intelligence? How does chiropractic relinquish the metaphors that have perpetuated the myth contained in classical holism and embrace contemporary holism as a possible science? How does chiropractic integrate the philosophy of an "innate" function of the body as an "intelligence" that communicates as a coordinational system through integration of mutual causal loops in a self-organizing system?

8.1.6. Chiropractic, by adhering to a philosophy of innate function without further elaboration cannot hope to pursue scientific inquiry into that innate function. In essence, chiropractic doesn't know what it is looking for. It has not been able to define itself in terms that might be amenable to the scientific process. On the other hand, the appearance of contemporary holism as a science may support the basic idea of communicative complexity. Jamison attempts to satisfy this requirement in definition by examination of holism, communication, and the placebo effect (7.1). The ability to commit the idea into a formal inquiry would appear to be a step in the right direction.

8.1.7. However, for chiropractic, the problem ...and the answers... are still viewed from that of classical holism. Elaborating upon the innate ability of the body to perform within the context of unknown principles accepts the principle of an extended intangible (innate) that is inaccessible to inquiry. It attempts to explain the mechanistic, structural component of subluxation theory with a function relegated to an unknown cause, an "intelligence" that is "innate" within the body but without definable characteristics. On the other hand, introducing the "cybernetic interactionism" argument of infomedicine [6.0] presents a type of thinking in which "coordinated function" supersedes the autonomy of a subsystem activity. It can be accessible to examination by introducing coordination as an objective, tangible observation.

8.1.8. Much of the discussion about innate must remain brief in its explanation in this article. It is, however, important to note that inquiry into innate has, essentially, been nonproductive. What is not understood is that inquiry into innate is another way of asking about "intent and design" of an organism (or the universe, for that matter). What is not recognized is that knowledge of the universe (and our link with the "creator") is derived through understanding of a coordinational system of objects and events based upon mathematical interrelationships in the universe. The hypothesis that much of chiropractic is based upon coordinational interrelationships of structure to function has not been considered as a critical focus for inquiry.

8.1.9. The conflict between the chiropractic philosopher and the scientist may not really exist except in the minds of the respective polemicist. The acceptance of extended intangibles (that "something else going on" notion of things) has carried the chiropractic science community into the same line of reasoning as the philosopher with one exception: science asks "why" and "how" ...and attempts to do something about it through the inquiry process. The problem has been the inability to view the philosophical assertions as a descriptive explanation of a "function" that has not yet been recognizable as accessible through scientific examination.

8.1.10. In principle, the holistic argument contains similarities to the innate argument. It appeals to chiropractic from a classical holistic perspective by providing arguments revolving around the holistic notion of an extended intangible (innate intelligence). It is the leap of faith in mechano-engineering, reductionist methodology and the assurance of that "something else going on" notion without the necessary understanding of the exact mechanisms. Classical holism encourages the vitalistic notion of extended intangibles. Chiropractic confuses classical holism with contemporary holism. It accepts contemporary holism in the classical sense as an attempt to broaden the definition of generic holism, as a concept, by recognizing the interactiveness with man to his environment. In this sense, it is teleological in linking causes with an external environment as an extension of linear logic within mechanistic, teleological constructs.

8.1.11. Jamison's examination of holism is that of contemporary holism. It is the interaction between the patient - practitioner encounter that contributes to a participatory role in the holistic context. It relies upon examination of extended intangibles as a psychosocial interactionism that can be subject to examination. While the focus for Jamison is on the patient - practitioner encounter in a contemporary holistic setting (7.1), its importance for chiropractic is that it is a transition in thinking. It represents a formal process of inquiry into the philosophy of science as it applies to chiropractic through sociological examination.

8.1.12. Underlying all this, however, is the notion of self organization. That this ability to function as a self organizing system could lie within a neurological context of relationships has been suggested by chiropractic through its theory coupled with its philosophy. In a manner similar to the infomedical paradigm statement (self organization through cybernetic interactionism), chiropractic has focused on single level explanations (the "pinched nerve" concept or the subluxation as a single level lesion linked to an innate function) as its primary argument for a disease causation principle. The problem, however, is that the mechano - engineering principles of subluxation theory conflict with a philosophy of innate function that cannot be identified or differentiated as a functional, coordinated unit of interactive self organization.

8.1.13. The possibility that the subluxation theory (single level lesion) prevents the ability to examine the neurological interactionism at different levels of organization within the body requires further examination. Chiropractic has maintained a philosophy ("innate intelligence") to explain a "function" of the healing process. It has not been able to examine this function, in part, due to the restrictions of the theory.

Seutter, V. "Commentary: Holism, Alternative Medicine, and Why Chiropractic Embraces It. Chiropractic Philosophy: Expressing an Idea" Chiropractic Resource Organization. 8 Oct 1997. ChiroZine ISSN1525-4550
(c) 1997-2001 All rights reserved.

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