Bill Decken, DC, FCSC, DPhCS
Ask a non-philosopher, “What do philosophers discuss?” and a likely answer will be, “The meaning of life.” Ask the same question of a philosopher and you will rarely get this answer. In the philosophical community there appears to be a disinterest in this question and it is likely due to the question’s lack of clarity.
Chiropractic is defined in Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook as a Philosophy, Science and Art of things natural; a system of adjusting the segments of the spinal column by hand only, for the correction of the cause of dis-ease. It is not my intention to discuss this definition in its entirety here as it does not relate to my topic. I do, however, want to point out that since Chiropractic claims to be a philosophy, and since the perception by outsiders is that philosophy looks at meaning, then perhaps it was important that the Chiropractic founders explain the “meaning of life.”
It is interesting to note that the Chiropractic principles essentially begin with the meaning of life and the that discussion is carried all the way through to principle #33. No place in the principles is health discussed. Instead, what Stephenson described as a deductive science of life commences with a general statement about all matter and concludes with a very specific statement about a subluxation interfering with expression in living (vertebrate) matter.
When I was young boy playing baseball the coach could frequently be heard yelling at us to “show some life”. He wanted us to look alive and not like a bump on a log. Life, in this case meant motion, activity, an appearance that we were “in the game.”
Growing up, when we were not feeling too great, or down right sick, my mother would say we “look like death warmed over.” Well, let’s think about that. When we are under the weather, not feeling too well, don’t we look different? Don’t we look like our energy levels are down? Is there not a visible change in our countenance? My mom was not a trained scientist but she sure seems to have hit the vibrational energy concept in science exactly right. She noticed that we were vibrating on a different level and sure enough, death and life have different vibrations. Different expressions.
So what makes matter vibrate? Science tells us that all matter has vibrations. The human body consists of matter as does the kitchen table. Both are made of atoms and all atoms are vibrating at some level. There is a universal intelligence expressed in the molecular structure of the material the table is made from and there is also educated intelligence expressed in the design and function of the table. Innate intelligence is expressed in the human being sitting at the table. Three types of intelligence all being expressed in matter and yet we only have “control” over one of them, the educated intelligence. We see expression of all three forms of intelligence by way of the efficiency, organization, and purposefulness with which the matter functions.
The previous principle (#1) started with the assumption that matter is organized by a universal intelligence and in that organization we see properties and actions being expressed. It will, therefore, make perfect sense later on when we concern ourselves with the expression of intelligence in living matter, the people getting checked in our offices.
So, in Chiropractic, the meaning of life is the expression of intelligence through matter.
Young ballplayers give meaning to the game by expressing the actions of a ballplayer. The kitchen table takes on the meaning it was intended to have, whether that be sitting comfortably while dining or having great family interaction. Michelangelo’s David gets its meaning from the properties of the marble from which it was derived. Similarly, young children may express the actions and properties of robust health one day and look like death warmed over the next. In both cases the children are expressing the purposefulness of their physiological functions. In both cases their bodies are working efficiently and in organized fashion to adapt to the situation at hand. These are all examples of different types of matter expressing different types of intelligence. They all have a measure of life.
When Chiropractors develop a Continuing Education program for their practice members they mostly focus on the expression of innate and educated intelligence in the matter of the person’s body. In addition, this principle, #2, will be crucial in understanding the simplicity and logic of several later principles that are also used frequently in educating folks about Chiropractic.
For instance, the muscles (matter) of an active, athletic person palpate much differently than those of a couch potato. In both cases educated intelligence is being expressed because it was educated intelligence that made the lifestyle choice. A similar comparison could be made between a desk job and manual labor, or between various nutritional regimens.
Regardless of which person above we are palpating, we will be able to palpate the working muscles that move the vertebrae. We will also be able to measure the heat patterns along the spine as well as the electrical activity of the paraspinal muscles. These are all expressions of the innate intelligence of the body.
As the person moves forward with regular Chiropractic care, the correction of vertebral subluxations will allow for the better expression of the innate intelligence of the body. This will be made evident by differences in the matter of the body as the body begins to give evidence of a more efficient, organized and purposeful expression of life. We will note changes in palpation, thermography and myography, to name just a few.
There is a difference between a fast moving stream in the woods, with an aura of vibrancy, and one that is meandering and dying. Both are expressing life but at different levels. When vertebral subluxation is present the nerve traffic is not moving, like a dying stream. When the nerve system is clear of interference it is like a fast moving stream, full of energy, power and life.
Do you see properties and actions in the world around you? Does your practice member see, hear, smell, taste or feel anything about their body? It is intelligence being expressed. It has meaning. Seek to understand it.
Dr. Bill Decken has served on the faculty of Sherman College for 31 years and is currently a professor of clinical sciences and chair of the philosophy department. He developed, manages and teaches in Sherman’s Academy of Chiropractic Philosophers. Decken serves as President of the Palmetto State Chiropractic Association (PSCA) and previously served as Chairman of the International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations (IFCO). He served eight years on the South Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners. A father of four and an avid cyclist, he lives with his wife, Grace, and has a family practice in Spartanburg, SC.