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November 2022

Med Ges Gesch. 1993 ; 12(): 177-204.

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Hess V.

Institut für Geschichte der Medicin, Freie Universität Berlin.

This essay focuses on a moment when in medicine the prevailing static conception of disease was seen from a temporal perspective and conceived as a developmental process. Included in this discourse was Hahnemann's conception of homoeopathy. His conception combined two traditional systems of reading and interpreting signs of illness drawing a direct conclusion from a visible sign to a significant therapy while excluding causal-theoretical reflection about the meaning of signs. The basis of this idea is rooted in the general epistemological structure of the 18th century, in which knowledge was represented in the relation of a sign with meaning or significance. In contrast to the trinary structure of modern semiotics as exemplified by the Peircian terms "object, representamen and interpretant", medical semiotics and knowledge in the 18th century was instituted by the binary semantic relationship of representation. Thus, Hahnemann's roots in the intellectual world of the 18th century not only defined his contribution to the discourse, they may also explain his exclusion after the conceptual change of the early 19th century.

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