Philosophy of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.




    Wonders are daily callers, and seem greatly on the increase during the Eighteenth century.  As we read history we learn that no one hundred years of the past has produced wonders in such number and variety.  Stupid systems of government have given place to better and wiser.  Voyages of the ocean have had months by sail reduced to days by steam.  Journeys over land that would require six months by horse and ox, are now accomplished in six days by raft.  Our law, medical and other schools of five and seven years, are now but two or three; and the graduates of such schools are far superior in useful knowledge to those of the five and seven. And no wonder at that, for the facilities for giving the pupil an education are so far superior that the knowledge sought, can be obtained in less time.  Our schools are not intended to use the greatest number of days that are allotted to man.  But at this day schooling and learning mean, to obtain useful knowledge in the quickest way that a thoroughness can be obtained.  If there is any method by which arithmetic can be taught so as to master it in thirty days instead of thirty months let us have it.  We want knowledge, we are willing to pay for it, we want all we pay for, and we want our heads kept out of the sausage-mill of time wasting.

    A great question now stands before us: What are the possibilities of mind to improve our methods of gaining knowledge, shorten time, and getting greater and better results?  I am free to say the question is too momentous to form an answer, as each day brings a new wonder, to the man or woman who reasons on cause, and gives demonstrations by effects.


    The philosopher who first asked that question no one knows.  But all intelligent persons are interested in the solution of this problem, at least to know some tangible reason why it is called life; whether life is personal or so arranged that it might be called an individualized principle of nature.

    I wish to think for a time on this line, because we should make a wise handling of the machinery of the body.

    If life in man has been formed to suit the size and duties of the being; if life has a living and separate personage, then we should be governed by such reasons as would give it the greatest chance to go on with its labors in the bodies of man and beast.

    We know by experience that a spark of fire will start the principles of powder into motion, which, were it not stimulated by the positive principle of father nature, which finds this germ lying quietly in the womb of space, would be silently inactive for all ages, without being able to move or help itself, save for the motor principle of life given by the father of all motion.


    Right here we could and should ask the question: Is this action produced by electricity put in motion, or is it the active principle that comes as a spiritual man?  If so, it is useless, to try, or hope to know what life is in its minutia.  But we do know that life can only display its natural forces by the visible action of the forms it produces.

    If we inspect man as a machine, we find a complete building, a machine that courts inspection and criticism.  It demands a full exploration of all its parts with their uses.  Then the mind is asked to see or find the connection
between the physical, and the spiritual.  By nature you can reason on the roads that the powers of life are arranged to suit its system of motion.

    If life is an individualized personage, as we might express that mysterious something, and it must have definite arrangements by which it can be united and act with matter; then we are admonished to acquaint ourselves with the arrangements of those natural connections, the one or many, as they are connected to all parts of the completed being.

    As motion is the first and only evidence of life, by this thought we are conducted to the machinery through which life works to accomplish these results.


    If the brain be that division in which force is generated or stored, you must at all hazards acquaint yourself with that structure of this machine; trace the connection from brain to heart, from heart to lungs, and other organs that can be acted upon by the brain, whose duty may be to construct the fleshy and bony parts of the body.  Trace from the brain to the chemical laboratories, and note their action as they unite and prepare blood and other fluids, that are used in the economy of this vital, self-constructing and self-moving wonder, commonly known as man; wherein life and matter do unite, and express their friendly relation one with the other; and while this relation exists we have the living man only, expressing and proving the relation that can exist between life and matter, from the lowest living atom, to the greatest worlds.  They can only express form and action by this law.  Harmony only dwells where obstructions do not exist.


    The Osteopath finds here the field in which he can dwell forever.  His duties as a philosopher admonish him, that life and matter can be united, and that union cannot continue with any hindrance to the free and absolute motion.  Therefore his duty is to keep away from the track all that will hinder the complete passage of the forces of the nervous system, that by that power the blood may be delivered and adjusted, to keep the system in normal condition.  Here is your duty; do it well, if you wish to succeed.


    We believe only when we do not know.  Belief and doubt are equal terms.  If we believe the sacrum is formed by a local system, then we can or will have cause to believe that the rectum and colon appear after the outer skin is in process of forming.  For want of the truths we are left in speculative doubt.  I believe the lower bowels are formed by local machinery that receives and appropriates to the purpose of construction of such parts o r organs as nature designs to be used there.  If we dissect a chicken as soon as hatched we will find the colon beginning at rectum and complete in form, but not connected to the small intestines.


    To get more directly at the point I want to make I will say I have some reasons to believe that the lower bowels are builded from rectum to the vermi-form appendix, by acts of pelvis.  It may be well to state that I have seen formation of rectum and colon in the chicken, before the small intestines were visible at all.  Then in same chicken I saw, liver, lung, crop and gizzard, and only one artery in the region of the small intestines.  From this I was led to believe that the pelvis did much of the forming of the viscera.  If so, then we could look for much relief through the system of the pelvis.


    Oedema is the one word that appears to be at the first showing of life and death in animal forms.  Previous to death by general swelling of system, a watery swelling of fascia and lymphatics, even to those of nerve fibers.  If a disease should destroy life by withholding all fluids, we can trace such cause in the beginning to a time when there was watery swelling of the centers of nerves of nutrition, to such amount as to cut off nerve supply until sensation ceased to renovate and keep off accumulating fluids so long that fermentation did the work of heating till all fluids had dried up, and the channels of supply closed by adhesive inflammation, and death follows by the law of general atrophy.


    To assert that all diseases have their beginning in oedema may be wide in range, but we often find one principle to rule over much territory.  "Instance:" Mind is the supreme ruler of all beings, from the mites of life to the monsters of the land and sea.  Thus we see a ruling principle is without limit.  The same of numbers.  By heat all metals melt to fluidity; acids must have oxygen to begin as solvents in most metals.  We only speak imperfectly of some common laws to prepare the student to think on the line of probabilities as I hold them out for consideration.  Suppose we begin at the atoms of fluids such as enter to construct animal or vegetable forms, and pen up till decomposition begins.  By such delay does not nature call a halt and refuse to obey the laws of construction and let all other supplies pile up even to death?  Is not all this the result of oedema?  Oedema surely begins with the first tardy atom of matter.

    Pneumonia begins by its oedematous accumulations of dead atoms, even to the death of the whole body, all having found a start in atoms only.


    We will close this chapter by propounding a few questions which the Osteopath should keep in mind.

    Are the human and animal forms complete as working machines?

    Has nature furnished man with powers to make his bones; give them the needed shapes of durable material, strong in kind?

    Does a section in nature's law provide fastenings to hold these to one another?

    Then another question arises: How will this body move, and where and how is the force applied?

    Where and how is this force obtained?

    How is it generated and supplied to these parts of motion?

    What makes these muscles, ligaments, nerves, veins, arteries?

    Are they self-forming, or has nature prepared machinery to make them?

    Does animal life contain knowledge and force to construct all of the 13arts of man?

    Can it run the machine after it has finished it?

    By what power does it move?

    Is there a blood vessel running to all parts of this body to supply all these demands?

    If it has a battery of force, where is it?

    What does it use for force?

    Is it electricity?  If so how does it collect and use this substance?

    How does it convey its powers to any or all places?

    How does the man keep warm without fire?

    How does he build and lose flesh all the time?

    Where and how is the supply made and deliv-ered to proper places?

    How is it applied and what holds it to its place when adjusted?

    What makes it build the house of life?

    Do demand and supply govern the work?  If not, what does?

    Are the laws of animal life sufficient to do all this work of building and repairing wastes and keep it in running condition?

    If it does, what can man do or suggest to help

    Is this machine capable of being run fast or slow if need be?

    Does man have in him some kind of chemical laboratory that can turn out such products, as he needs to fill all his physical demands?

    If by heat, exercise, or any other cause he gets warm, can that chemistry cool him to normal?

    If too cold can it warm him?  Can it adjust him to heat and cold?

    If so, how is it done?  Is the law of life and longevity fully vindicated in man's make up?