The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient

With truly effective remedies it is important that the doctor knows not only what medicine cures what disease but also what questions to ask the patient. The greatest medical art lies in asking the right questions and in being familiar with the patient. This is extremely important. 

Yet it is strange, for example, that we meet doctors who frequently have not even asked the patient his age, though this is significant. While he may use the same remedies, a doctor can treat a fifty-year old in a manner completely different from the way he treats one who is forty, for example. They should not be so schematic as to say, “This medication is right for this illness.” For instance, it makes a great difference if you want to cure someone who is constantly afflicted with diarrhoea or someone who has chronic constipation.

Such remedies could be tested, and here experiments with animals would be much less objectionable than they are in other areas. Regarding constipation or diarrhoea, you can easily learn how some remedy reacts in the general physical organism that men have in common with the animals by giving the same medicine to both a dog and a cat. The dog regularly suffers from constipation, and the cat from diarrhoea. You can acquire a wonderful knowledge by observing the degree of difference in the medication’s effect in the dog or the cat. 

Scientific knowledge really is not attained by university training in how to do this or that with certain instruments. True science results, rather, when common sense is aroused a little; then people know how they must conduct their experiments.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 348 – Health and Illness I: Lecture IX: Why do We Become Sick? – Dornach, December 27, 1922

Knowing much without, in fact, having true knowledge 

What is sent out from our European and American universities as so-called human wisdom, but also as social wisdom, technical wisdom and so on, in fact, is a view of the world to the exclusion of all the factors that belong to the human being. Whosoever today is in some leading position, even if it is an insignificant leading position, has no opportunity at all to learn something or other that would enable him to acquire insight into the human being. And without human knowledge there is no social life, without human knowledge there is no renewal of Christianity. 

One can nowadays become a theologian without having any idea of the mystery of Golgotha, for most theologians have no idea who Christ is. You can nowadays become a lawyer without having any idea of what the human being really is. One can become a doctor without having any idea of how the human being is built up from out of the cosmos, without having any idea of how the healthy and the diseased body relate to each other. One can be a technician today, without having any idea of how the construction of some machine will affect the entire course of earthly evolution, and one can today be a genius inventor of a telephone without having an idea of what the phone means for the whole of earthly development. 

People lack a view of the course of human development. And every man has his own desire to form a small circle and to acquire a routine in this small circle, to use this routine to further his egoism, which he creates for himself without considering how, what he brings as part of the world into this world, is interwoven into the whole.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung – Dornach, February 6, 1920 (page 158-159)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Previously posted on February 8, 2018

The Importance of Education for the Human Being

When you consider the whole human lifespan, not only what is comfortable, not just childhood, to obtain basic pedagogical rules, pedagogical impulses, it becomes clear for the first time what a vitally important role education and upbringing have in the life of a human being. One realises, how often happiness or misfortune in terms of mental, psychological and physical wellbeing are related to education and upbringing. When you see how the doctor, when treating people in old age, without knowing, needs to correct upbringing mistakes and that he often fails to address the problems he encounters, because they are too firmly anchored in the human being. When you see how a child lives with its feelings into what it experiences and how this has physical consequences, when you realise how the interchanging between the physical and the psychical occurs, you come to deeply respect, to evaluate in the right way the importance of the methodology of learning.  You begin to understand what the existential conditions for educating should be, merely according to the nature of the human being himself.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 308 – Die Methodik des Lehrens und die Lebensbedingungen des Erziehens – Stuttgart, April 8, 1924 (page 16)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Knowing much without, in fact, having true knowledge

What is sent out from our European and American universities as so-called human wisdom, but also as social wisdom, technical wisdom and so on, in fact, is a view of the world to the exclusion of all the factors that belong to the human being. Whosoever today is in some leading position, even if it is an insignificant leading position, has no opportunity at all to learn something or other that would enable him to acquire insight into the human being. And without human knowledge there is no social life, without human knowledge there is no renewal of Christianity.

One can nowadays become a theologian without having any idea of the mystery of Golgotha, for most theologians have no idea who Christ is. You can nowadays become a lawyer without having any idea of what the human being really is. One can become a doctor without having any idea of how the human being is built up from out of the cosmos, without having any idea of how the healthy and the diseased body relate to each other. One can be a technician today, without having any idea of how the construction of some machine will affect the entire course of earthly evolution, and one can today be a genius inventor of a telephone without having an idea of what the phone means for the whole of earthly development.

People lack a view of the course of human development. And every man has his own desire to form a small circle and to acquire a routine in this small circle, to use this routine to further his egoism, which he creates for himself without considering how, what he brings as part of the world into this world, is interwoven into the whole.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 196 – Geistige und soziale Wandlungen in der Menschheitsentwickelung – Dornach, February 6, 1920 (page 158-159)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Julius Robert Mayer

The development of science, you know, is sometimes remarkable. A monument stands today in Heilbronn — certainly it is rather dreadful as a work of art, but still it stands there and represents Julius Robert Mayer. If you hear about him in science today, you learn that he was a pioneering genius through his researches in the 40’s of the last century into the nature of the action of heat.

Julius Robert Mayer was born in Heilbronn, practiced there as a doctor and went about without being particularly noticed. The scientists of the time paid no special attention to him. And although today he is described everywhere as a highly gifted pioneer in physics, at that time when he sat for his medical examination at Tubingen he failed it. If you made investigations, you would come on the remarkable fact that the majority of men who later became geniuses failed earlier in their examinations.

And this was also the fate of Julius Robert Mayer. By the skin of his teeth, he managed to get through and become a doctor. But no one considered him remarkable during his lifetime — in fact, quite the contrary. He became so enthusiastic about his discovery that he talked of it everywhere. Then people said that his mind was wandering and put him in an asylum. His own generation put him in a madhouse while posterity looks upon him as a great genius and puts up a monument to him in his native town.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars: Lecture XII – Dornach, 18th September 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Julius Robert von Mayer

Julius Robert Mayer