33 Principles – Clarified 

 September 4, 2012

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville Virginia Chiropractor – Something I’ve always appreciated about chiropractic is that it acknowledges we, as humans, are more than the sum of our parts.  In other words, there is something to life.  We are not just a bag of chemical reactions.  This was first published in a systematic format in the 1927!  Specifically, in R. W. Stephenson’s Chiropractic Textbook, called the “Thirty Three Principles.”  In this he says we, as chiropractors, recognize a universal intelligence in all things as well as an innate intelligence in us.  Here was the part I didn’t like.  Not that I disagree, but the words are vague.  Stephenson was speaking in a different age and time.  In our day of new interest in spiritual things, this can fit many models of spirituality.  As a result, it is my opinion, there has been a great deal of confusion and equivocation over some terms.  Now, as with the interpretation of anything, fiction or non-fiction, we have the task of trying to figure out what the author really meant.  And in the case of Stephenson, he did you use some terms that we don’t see in use any more.  This was only 80 years ago.

Over the 80 years many have given their best attempts to articulate what Stephenson was trying to communicate.  Some pretty good, some horrible, in my opinion.  Honestly, I was never completely comfortable with any of the attempts to clarify.  They varied from too metaphysical to too naturalistic.  Lately, in 2008, David B. Koch, D.C., D.PH.C.S., has done us a tremendous service by revisiting Stephenson’s 33 Principles again.  He goes to great pains to remain true to the original, but isn’t afraid to use modern language and knowledge to bring clarity.  He explains why he feels he has the liberty to rearrange and edit.  I agree with him on this point.  Essentially Stephenson did not intend to write the 33 premises as one long syllogism.  The principles have direction and themes, which Dr. Koch brings out in his editing.  To this I applaud him greatly.  In a sense I feel like I can fully embrace them now while not feeling like I’m compromising my Christian worldview.  And for the many of you who aren’t Christian, it will still make more sense now that some work has been done to update the language.  One certainly does not have to be a theist to agree, understand, or accept the work.  Thank you Dr. Koch!

I will write out his edited version of the 33 Principles.  This is as much for other Chiropractors as it patients and potential patients.  I hope doctors will read this and want to buy the book.  And I’d like patients or potential chiropractic patients to see and appreciate the vitalistic foundation of chiropractic and how ahead of their time our early founders and professors where.  That being said it isn’t terribly easy “get it” with a leisurely reading.  Which makes it that much more appealing to go get the book if it interests you!

This comes from Contemporary Chiropractic Philosophy: An Introduction, pages 77 through 80.

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.

2.  Cause and Effect

  • Every effect has causes and every cause has effects.

3.   The Principle of Time

  • All processes require time.

4.   No Organization without the Effort of Force

  • Matter can have no organization without the application of force by intelligence.

5.  Universal Expression

  • Force is manifested as organization in matter; all matter has organization, therefore there is universal intelligence expressed in all matter.

6.  The Triune of Organization

  • Any organized structure is a triunity having three necessary factors; namely, intelligence, matter and the force which unites them.

7.  The Function of Intelligence

  • The function of intelligence is to create force.

8.  The Amount of Intelligence in Matter

  • The amount of intelligence for any given amount of matter is 100%, and is always proportional to its requirements.

9.  The Function of Force

  • The function of force is to unite intelligence and matter.

10. The Amount of Force Created by Intelligence

  • The amount of force created by intelligence is always 100%

11. The Character of Universal Forces

  • The forces the universe’s intelligence creates throughout the universe are manifested as physical laws; are unswerving and unadapted, and have no solitude for the structures in which they work.

12. Interference with the Transmission of Universal Forces

  • There can be interference with the transmission of universal forces.

13. The Function of Matter

  • The function of matter is to express force.

14. Intelligence in Both Organic and Inorganic Matter

  • Universal intelligence gives force to both organic and inorganic matter.

The Biological Principles

15. Organic Matter

  • The material of the body of a “living thing” is organized matter.

16.  Innate Intelligence

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

17.  The Chiropractic Meaning of Life

  • The expression of this innate intelligence through matter is the chiropractic meaning of “life.”

18.  The Union of Intelligence, Force and Matter (The Triune of Life)

  • Life is necessarily the union of this intelligence and the matter of a living thing, brought about by the creation of specific internal biological forces.

19.  Evidence of Life

  • The signs of life (the ability to assimilate, eliminate, grow, reproduce and adapt) are evidence of the intelligence of life.

20.  The Mission of Innate Intelligence

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

21.  The Perfection of the Triune

  • In order to have 100% life, there must be 100% intelligence, 100% force, and 100% matter.

22.  The Amount of Innate Intelligence

  • There is 100% of innate intelligence in every living thing, the requisite amount, proportional to its organization.

23.  The Function of Innate Intelligence

  • The function of a living thing’s innate intelligence is to adapt environmental forces and matter for use in its body, so that all parts of its body will have coordinated action for mutual benefit.

24.  The Principle of Coordination

  • Coordination is the principle of harmonious interaction among all the parts of an organism, in fulfilling their functions and purposes.

25.  The Limits of Adaptation

  • A living thing’s innate intelligence adapts forces and matter for use in its body as long as it can do so without breaking a universal law; in other words, its expression is limited by the limitation of matter and time.

26.  The Normality of Innate Intelligence

  • A living thing’s innate intelligence is always normal, and its function is always normal.

27.  The Character of Internal Biological Forces

  • The forces a living thing’s innate intelligence creates are never intended to injure or destroy the living thing itself.

28.  Comparison of Environmental and Internal Biological Forces

  • In order to carry on the universal cycle of life, environmental forces are destructive to a specific living thing, unless it can adapt to them, whereas internal biological forces are constructive to the specific living thing that creates them, unless they suffer interference.

29.  Interference with Transmission of Internal Biological Forces

  • There can be interference with the transmission of internal biological forces.

30.  The Causes of Dis-ease.

  • Interference with the transmission of internal biological forces causes incoordination, or dis-ease.

The Chiropractic Principles

31.  The Conductors of Internal Biological Forces

  • In animals, some of the forces a living thing’s innate intelligence creates operate through or over its nerve system.

32.  The Law of Demand and Supply

  • The Law of Demand and Supply operates and is expressed in animal bodies through the functioning of the nerve system; wherein the brain acts as a CPU (Central Processing Unit) for the living thing’s innate intelligence, and wherein the nerves transmit messages from the body to the brain, concerning its needs (demands), and transmit messages from the brain to the body to meet (supply) those needs.

33.  Subluxations

  • In vertebrates, interference with the transmission of nerve forces in the body is often directly or indirectly due to subluxations in the spinal column.

Wow.  That’s a lot to take in.  But I like it.  Hope it was helpful, or at least a bit interesting.

Stover Chiropractic, P.C.

Real. Simple. Healthcare.



We are located at 9097 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville, Virginia, 23111.  This is a Hanover county address, but we are minutes from Glenn Allen, Innsbrook, Sandston, and Varina.  We also serve many people from King William and New Kent Counties.  Our close proximity to I295 means we are very easy to reach from anywhere in the Richmond Metro area.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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