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The Principles of Chiropractic Philosophy. In review:. The philosophy of chiropractic is derived from fundamental philosophical concepts. Philosophy – What Is It?. Literally: “Love (philo) of discourse (sophos)

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in review
In review:
  • The philosophy of chiropractic is derived from fundamental philosophical concepts
philosophy what is it
Philosophy – What Is It?
  • Literally: “Love (philo) of discourse (sophos)
  • The study of the laws and causes under-lying reality, leading to an understanding of its fundamental nature.
    • The process of integrating knowledge into a useful world view
    • The attempt to explain phenomena using of all available information
  • the way we look at all of existence; the nature of the universe
  • Metaphysical concepts:

1. Materialism/physicalism

2. Idealism

3. Dualism

how does chiropractic philosophy relate
How does chiropractic philosophy relate?
  • “dualistic interactionism:” mind and matter are mutually interdependent; one can’t exist without the other
  • The study of life and living things
  • Biological Concepts:

1. Mechanism

2. Vitalism

how does chiropractic philosophy relate1
How does chiropractic philosophy relate?
  • “critical vitalism” or “organicism:” Living things, including humans are more than the sum of their parts; “life” creates and maintains the conditions for its own existence; we can not be described as complex, carbon-based “machines”
  • We are “life in matter inseparably”
dr lipton s ideas
Dr. Lipton’s ideas:
  • The universe, and, hence humans in it, are most accurately described in terms of energy (it is a quantum universe)
  • The human body and its behavior (life) are not machine-like, and thus we are not controlled/victimized by our genes
dr lipton s ideas1
Dr. Lipton’s ideas:
  • The behavior of our cells, and thus of our whole body, is controlled by signals (energy) from the environment
  • For our body’s cells, these signals (energy) are generated by the central nervous system (brain); the control of behavior is therefore from Above-Down-Inside-Out (ADIO)





















Explanation of relationships


Empirical generalizations


Predicted relationships



philosophic methodology
Philosophic Methodology
  • Philosophy works through deductive reasoning
  • Deduction: “to pull out of”
    • To derive meaningful conclusions from general principles through logical reasoning
    • Based on assumptions accepted a priori as true
  • Usually reasoning from the more general principle to the more specific case
the syllogism philosophy s basic argument
The Syllogism– Philosophy’s Basic Argument
  • A Major Premise:
    • All humans have the capacity to heal themselves
  • A Minor Premise:
    • You are a human being
  • The Logical Conclusion:
    • You have the capacity to heal yourself
strengths of deductive reasoning
Strengths of Deductive Reasoning
  • Can allow us to reason beyond our experience
    • Immeasurable, immaterial, subjective, unique
  • 100% certainty of conclusions
    • We reason to understand, in order to act
    • Our willingness to act is often based on our confidence in our conclusions
limitations of deductive reasoning
Limitations of Deductive Reasoning
  • Quality of the assumptions – are they true?
    • Can come from anywhere / accepted as true
    • False assumptions lead to uncertain conclusions
  • Quality of the logic – is it valid?
    • Errors can produce false conclusions from true premises or true conclusions from false premises!
  • Deduction is not self-testing
    • Conclusions need to be tested against reality
the thirty three principles

The Thirty-Three Principles

An Introduction

Originally authored by R. W. Stephenson

Reordered, categorized and edited by

David B. Koch, D.C. and the PCC Philosophy faculty

The Thirty-Three Principles are a compilation of B.J. Palmer’s philosophy, as described by R.W. Stephenson

Chiropractic Text Book, 1927

The original Thirty-Three Principles (see handout) are a study in deductive logic, proceeding from a major premise to specific applications in biology and the human body
You will examine the Thirty-three Principles and their application in depth in Phil 113 (4th trimester)
the reorganized 33 principles see handout
The “Reorganized 33 Principles: (see handout)
  • In 2003, Dr. David Koch, then a professor of philosophy at PCC, published a review of the Principles, in which they were renumbered, categorized, and edited, without changing the overall concepts or their intent
  • Many remain identical to the original language
the principles categorized
The Principles Categorized:
  • Universal Principles (1-14)
  • Biological Principles (15-30
  • Chiropractic Principles(31-33)
the universal principles
The Universal Principles
  • The first 14 principles outline the concept of an intelligent universe, define and characterize its ability to self-organize, and establish the relationship between its organizing intelligence and the matter of which the universe is composed. These are called the universal principles.
the universal principles1
The Universal Principles

1. The Major Premise

There is a universal intelligence in all matter, continuously giving to it all its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence, and giving this intelligence its expression.

the major premise
The Major Premise
  • Establishes an immaterial/material duality within a unity of existence
  • Establishes a mutual interdependence between intelligence and substance
  • Avoids natural/supernatural duality*

*Chiropractic is a philosophy, science and art of things natural… Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook, Article 2, p. xiii

a definition of intelligence
A definition of intelligence
  • The property of an organized system that is assumed to create the specific relationships within that system and/or cause the organized actions of that system.
    • Immaterial – active in brains, bushes, bacteria
    • Recognized by its effect – organization
    • If intelligence causes organization, organization implies intelligent action
universal intelligence revised
Universal Intelligence(Revised)
  • The principle of self-organization inherent in all matter.
    • “Sufficient cause” for all organization that has, does, or will exist
    • Immaterial potential only, until expressed
    • Unlimited, unchanging, non-anthropomorphic
    • The ability to relate matter together into integrated units of structure and function
  • Examples exist at every level of inorganic and organic activity.
    • An atom – p+, n0, e- in specific patterns of movement
    • A molecule – atoms moving in specific relationships
    • A cell – innumerable different molecules interacting
    • A tissue – similar cells forming a unified structure
    • An organ – specific tissues functioning in unison
    • A system – specific organs acting in coordination
    • The body – all organ systems interacting as one
force the interactive interface
Force – the “Interactive Interface”
  • To serve as the connection between immaterial intelligence and physical matter, force must have both non-physical and physical components.
    • Force must have a physical component to cause matter to have motion.
    • Force must have an immaterial component to carry intelligence’s organizing “intent” to matter.
force s physical component
Force’s Physical Component
  • The physical aspect of any force is energy.
    • Energy is physical substance (E = mc2).
      • Gravity
      • Electromagnetism
      • Strong and weak nuclear forces
      • Mechanical, chemical energy
    • Intelligence doesn’t create energy, rather it uses the energy of the physical universe to organize the matter of the universe.
force s immaterial component
Force’s Immaterial Component
  • The immaterial (non-physical) aspect of any force is information.
    • Information is the message carried by any force, which “tells” the matter upon which it acts “what to do.”
    • Intelligence creates the information in any force. (Principle 4)
    • The information in any force is expressed by matter in the specific way it responds to that force.
universal forces
Universal Forces
  • Universal intelligence creates the information in universal forces.
  • Matter expresses the information in universal forces as “universal laws.”
  • Universal forces/laws are “unswerving and unadapted, and have no solicitude for the structures in which they work” (Principle 12) whether those structures are living things or not. (Principle 13)
the biological principles
The Biological Principles
  • The next 16 principles explore the topic of “life,” identifying the self-organizing potential of a living thing as its innate intelligence and describ-ing the unique, constructive forces created within living things to main-tain their organization. These are the biological principles.
the biological principles1
The Biological Principles

16. Innate Intelligence

A living thing has the intelligence of the universe inborn within it, referred to as its innate intelligence.

innate intelligence
Innate Intelligence
  • “Innate intelligence” is the name we give to UI being expressed in living things
  • UI gives all matter all its properties and actions, therefore UI gives a “living thing” all its properties and actions
  • II isUI but individualized by the attention it pays to the unit (individual organism)
the biological principles2
The Biological Principles

19. Evidence of Life

The signs of life (assimilation, elimination, growth, reproduction, adaptability) are evidence of the innate intelligence of life.


…the intellectual ability that an organism possesses of responding to all forces which come to it, whether Innate or Universal*

*Stephenson’s Chiropractic Text Book, Article 67, p. 36

  • The ability to adapt comes from the innate intelligence of the organism
  • The expression of that ability comes from the matter (structure/function) of the organism
  • Often considered the primary sign of life
expressions of adaptability
Expressions of Adaptability
  • Enthalpy – The ability a living organism has to maintain itself in active organization against the effects of entropy.
  • Homeostasis – The ability a living organism has to maintain constant, optimum internal conditions in the face of constantly changing external conditions.
  • Healing –The ability a living organism has to repair and/or replace and/or compensate for damage to its physical structure.
the biological principles3
The Biological Principles

20. The Mission of Innate Intelligence

The mission of the body’s innate intelligence is to maintain the material of the body of a living thing in active organization.

active organization
Active Organization
  • In living organisms, innate intelligence is expressed not only through atomic and molecular organization, but through higher order interactive processes as well. These processes (the signs of life) involve matter and energy exchange with the environment, self-creation, self-transformation, self-maintenance, and reproduction.
  • This is the “active organization” referenced in Principle 20
innate forces
Innate Forces
  • Innate intelligence creates the information (not the energy) in innate forces.
    • The energy and matter is assimilated from outside the living thing (universal forces).
    • We assimilate chemical energy (carbohydrates).
    • We assimilate “building blocks” (proteins, lipids, DNA).
    • Innate intelligence adapts (transforms) these universal forces into innate forces to reorganize the matter into the body of the living thing
innate forces1
Innate Forces
  • The matter of the living thing (its body) expresses the information in innate forces as biological function.
    • The information is immaterial until it is expressed as physiological function.
    • The information in nerve impulses (electrochemical forces) is expressed as very quick, very specific physiological changes.
    • The information in hormones (chemical forces) is expressed in slower, systemic physiological changes.
    • The function of a living thing, and therefore the health of a living thing, lies in the expression of the specific information in these innate forces.
the biological principles4
The Biological Principles

25. The Limits of Adaptation

The body’s innate intelligence adapts forces and matter for the body’s use as long as it can do so without breaking a universal law;…

the biological principles5
The Biological Principles

25. The Limits of Adaptation other words, its expression is limited by the limitations of matter and time.

limits of adaptation
Limits of Adaptation
  • Any organism’s adaptability (its potential adaptive range) is limited by the form of the organism (Principle 25)* and the time adaptive processes require. (Principle 25)**

*Stephenson’s Chiropractic Text Book, Article 23, p. xxxii, **p. xxxi

  • Any particular adaptation is limited by the individual’s genetics, history, diet, neurological integrity
  • Subluxation would be considered a limiting factor in the expression of any specific adaptive response)
the biological principles6
The Biological Principles

30. The Cause of Dis-ease

Interference with the transmission of innate forces causes incoordination, or “dis-ease.”

the chiropractic principles
The Chiropractic Principles
  • The last 3 principles are specific to living organisms with nerve systems and spinal columns, characterizing the role of the forces traveling over these structures and identifying the problem of interference and dis-ease (incoordination). They are termed the chiropractic principles.
the chiropractic principles1
The Chiropractic Principles

33. Subluxations

Interference with transmission in the body is often directly or indirectly due to subluxations in the spinal column.