3rd Wave of Philosophy

The third wave of philosophy centers on the core faculty of the Palmer school, all authors of the chiropractic Green Books. This wave begins with the collaboration between B.J. Palmer and John Craven on the 1916 edition of Philosophy of Chiropractic. The wave ends with the publication of Stephenson\’s Chiropractic Textbook in 1927, an attempt to sum up the principles and philosophy of chiropractic to that point.

In the interim was the 1921 republication of both of D.D. Palmer’s books as The Chiropractic Adjustor: A Compilation of the Writings of D.D. Palmer, volume 4. The other books at this time were mainly applications of the philosophy to many fields of science. Authors such as Mabel Heath Palmer, Henry Vedder, James Firth, and S.L. Burich, were the most philosophically notable. Also included in this wave are the books by James Leroy Nixon, Arthur Holmes, and Arthur Forster.

BJ Palmer - philosophy, positive language, and success

Palmer\’s writing on success and life in general were highlighted by his book of epigrams, written in 1922. Palmer\’s Philosophy of Chiropractic and Science of Chiropractic, set the tone for the next decade of philosophy. To learn more about B.J. Palmer\’s life and writings, we recommend the following online sources:

James Leroy Nixon – Spirit of Chiropractic

 James Leroy Nixon was a student at Palmer School of Chiropractic during 1920. In the foreword to his book, The Spirit of the P.S.C., Nixon wrote, “

“The Spirit of the P. S. C. is, then, the outgrowth of facts gleaned and impressions formed during a regular student course, during which its author was brought into close personal and fraternal association with Dr. and Mrs. Palmer, with members of the faculty and with hundreds of students as well. It was written without suggestion from any member of the faculty or other person, knowledge of the author’s purpose being unknown except to two student friends, until the prepared manuscript was submitted to Dr. Palmer for his approval. If the book shall serve to enlighten the public as to what the big school “on the hill” in Davenport really is and what it stands for; what a blessing it has become to millions of sufferers; that it is bound to prove, more than any other yet discovered system of handling disease, a priceless boon to humanity, then its primary purpose will have been accomplished and the author will be happy in the realization that his labor has not been in vain.
JAMES LEROY NIXON. Davenport, Ia., March 13,1920.”(p. 6)

John Craven – philosophical collaboration

 John Craven\’s contributions to the philosophy of chiropractic can hardly be underestimated. He coauthored the 2nd edition of B.J. Palmer\’s book, The Philosophy of Chiropractic, volume 5. Craven\’s additions to this book are well marked as he wrote most of the sections for the “Normal Complete Cycle.” Craven was also the philosophy teacher of Ralph W. Stephenson, whose book on the philosophy of chiropractic is still referenced today.

Craven may not be well known in the philosophical discussions in chiropractic today because of a misprint on the cover of the 2nd edition of Philosophy of Chiropractic. The cover and spine read, The Science of Chiropractic, but the title page clearly states, The Philosophy of Chiropractic.

Craven was an ordained Methodist minister, prior to earning his D.C. degree in 1912 and joining the faculty in 1913. Keating wrote of Craven in his book, B.J. of Davenport, “Dr.Craven officiated at many of the marriages held on the Palmer campus during his tenure at the school, 1913 through 1935. Among the best remembered of these ceremonies was the 1917 nuptials at the Palmer mansion for Carl S. Cleveland and Rose Ruth Ashworth, future founders of the Cleveland Chiropractic College of Kansas City.” (1997, p. 155) (Keating and Carl Cleveland III, coauthored a biography of Rose Ruth\’s mother.) Craven also performed the Sunday services on WOC radio in the 1920s, including the first outdoor Easter service on the school\’s rooftop in 1924.

In addition to his contributions to Volume 5, which was reprinted almost every year between 1916-1920, Craven also wrote, Chiropractic Orthopedy (volume 15, 1922) and Chiropractic Hygiene and Pediatrics (volume 3, 1924). Both books containing references to Innate Intelligence, in keeping with the tradition of creating physiology textbooks that are expressions of a philosophical worldview.

SJ Burich – Chiropractic Chemistry

  Joe Keating writes of Burich in his book, B.J. of Davenport,

“Steven J. Burich was a graduate of Beloit College in Wisconsin and had been a grade school teacher of chemistry before enrolling at the PSC in June 1912. His instructional duties at Palmer commenced even before his May 1913, graduation from the Fountain Head, and he continued on staff for the next 13 years. BJ. considered him “the final authority on matters pertaining to the nervous system,” While teaching at the PSC he wrote a Textbook of Chiropractic Chemistry and co-authored a manual on adjustive techniques with his faculty peers, James Firth and Harry E. Vedder.” (1997, p.155)

Henry Vedder – Chiropractic Physiology

 Henry Vedder wrote Chiropractic Physiology (1922) and Chiropractic Gynecology (1923). Both books are filled with references to and examples of Innate Intelligence in action. This is very important because there were no other physiology books of that time period describing the inside view of the organism, especially with a perspective that the living system is intelligent and self-organized. Vedder should be considered one of the leading theoretical biologists of the early 20th century. Even more philosophically interesting in some ways, was Vedder\’s inclusion of references to Universal Intelligence in his physiology text.

Henry Vedder was one of the founders of Lincoln Chiropractic College in 1926, along with S.L. Burich and James Firth. Their break from B.J. Palmer and the Palmer school had a significant impact on the profession and the development of the philosophy.

Mabel Heath Palmer – Chiropractic Anatomy

Mabel Heath Palmer played a significant role in the early growth of chiropractic. Her contribution to the philosophy however is often overlooked. Palmer wrote Stepping Stones (1942) and Chiropractic Anatomy (1920). Just like the other chiropractically inspired textbooks, Chiropractic Anatomy can be viewed as a forerunner to modern theoretical biology. In the book is an attempt to describe the functional structures of anatomy from an interior dimension. Palmer described the living system as intelligent. Her descriptions can be viewed as precursors to autopoietic theory and systems theory. She is describing the inside view of the exterior structures of the body. Mabel was just one of many legendary women from chiropractic\’s early history.

Palmer viewed the Innate Intelligence as the controller of metabolism and the director of the body’s functions. The brain is the seat of both Educated and Innate Intelligence. It is the source of the mental currents, which flow to the body, and the receptor of impulses from the periphery; creating the cycle of life. The reception of impulses by the innate mind, form mental impressions, which are then acted upon by will. Interpretation is thus a function or action of Innate because the act of interpretation includes the response, the efferent impulse. This is an embodied and enactive approach to the life process. A subluxation disrupts this cycle by limiting the current and/or changing the function.

Jame Firth – Chiropractic Pathology

  Of James Firth, Keating wrote, “James N. Firth was a 1906 graduate of Arenac County Normal College, and worked as a public grade school teacher and principal before furthering his studies at the Ferris Institute in Michigan prior to his enrollment at the PSC in 1909.59 He earned his doctorate on July 18, 1910and established a short-lived practice in Manistee, Michigan. In 1911 he returned to Davenport to teach symptomatology, physiology, palpation and nerve tracing” at the Palmer School, where he remained until 1925. His scholarly works while at the PSC included a 1914 Textbook on Chiropractic Symptomatology which went to five revised editions and was re-titled Chiropractic Diagnosis.” (1997, p.155)

Arthur Holmes – Chiropractic and Law

 Arthur Holmes was a lawyer from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He joined the practice of Morris and Hartwell in 1915 and became a full partner in 1917. Morris was the chief council for the UCA. After Morris\’ death in 1928, Holmes became the chief council for the NCA, which was the result of the merging of the UCA with the first ACA. B.J. Palmer, who formed the CHB, which became the ICA, was critical of Holmes in the 1930s.

Arthur Forster – The White Mark

  Forster took over “Principles and Practice” from Howard in 1919 at National. Forster basically headed the chiropractic department. He was editor in chief of the National Journal of Chiropractic and also wrote the first textbook for National in 1915, called Principles and Practice of Spinal Adjustment (600 pages). The White Mark – An Editorial History of Chiropractic (1921), was a compilation of his editorials from 1914-1921.

Forster also did the autopsies “into the relationship of spinal nerves to various pathologies.” (Beideman, 1995)

Ralph Stephenson – Chiropractic Principles

Ralph W. Stephenson graduated from PSC in 1921 and started teaching in the philosophy department almost immediately. Stephenson\’s Chiropractic Textbook is a classic in the field. It includes the first exposition of the 33 Principles of chiropractic. These principles are still used today by many chiropractors as a source of philosophical inspiration and professional identity. They are still debated. The book goes into great detail on all things chiropractic and completes the ideas described throughout the 3rd wave of philosophy.

It is well known how B.J. Palmer endorsed Stephenson\’s 1927 Chiropractic Philosophy text. Palmer displayed just as much praise, if not more, for Stephenson\’s 1927 Chiropractic Art text. B.J. wrote,

“I regard this work as the finest and best work that has ever appeared on vertebral adjusting, giving us essentials alone, every fact strictly proven, minus goat-feathers, confining itself to demonstrated mechanistic principles which any scientist can read, try and find to be true. When our ranks can get a few more men like Dr. Stephenson who will devote themselves as laboriously as he has done, and will then place his genius and ability into print as accurately as he has done, Chiropractic will come into its own as another one of the exact arts which will stand the exacting scrutiny of time. If I could desire one wish, it would be that every chiropractor secure a copy of this work, study it intimately, sincerely and conscientiously, apply its teachings and, if he would, Chiropractic results would become more manifest and take another step forward increasing its percentage of successes.” (Foreword to The Art of Chiropractic, 1927)

Have you every wondered why there are two volume 4, two volume 14, and two volume 3, in the Greenbooks?
Wonder no more…check out the bibliography created by Glenda Wiese and Michele Lykins.
The entire set of Greenbooks is available in electronic form: Chiropractic Books.