Sherman Shares is a monthly publication of Sherman College.

  “Barefoot Irreverence” for Chiropractic Philosophy
by Bill Decken, D.C., Philosophy Department Chair

While none of the speakers at Sherman College’s third annual Conference for Philosophy in Chiropractic arrived without footwear, they did offer an abundance of food for thought and quite often stimulated questions and discussion. The theme of this year’s program was “Barefoot Irreverence: Questioning the Essential Nature of Chiropractic.”

Ashely Cleveland and Thom Gelardi, D.C.s chat after Cleveland's "Philosophical Inquiry" workshop.

The array of speakers included chiropractors from academia as well as those who practice daily in their offices and have a passion for chiropractic philosophy. They were Ashley Cleveland, D.C., Interim Academic Dean at Cleveland Chiropractic College; Gerard Clum, D.C., President of Life Chiropractic College West; Reed Phillips, D.C., Ph.D., President of Los Angeles College of Chiropractic/Southern California University of Health Sciences; Thomas Brodar, D.C. from Delhi, IN; David Soltanoff, D.C., a Sherman graduate practicing in New Jersey; Mark Filippi, D.C., from Westchester County, NY; Timothy Mirtz, D.C., of Missouri; Joe Strauss, D.C., F.C.S.C., who practices in Levittown, PA; Ed Owens, Jr., M.S., D.C., Director of Research at Sherman College; and Thomas A. Gelardi, D.C., founder and first president of Sherman College.

Life Chiropractic College West President Gerard Clum, D.C., presents his keynote speech at the conference.

Southern California University of Health Sciences President Reed Phillips, D.C., presents "Research: The Pursuit of Truth?"

Joe Strauss and Valerie Pennacchio, D.C.s, chat after Cleveland's "Philosophical Inquiry" workshop.

The topics covered did arguably satisfy the theme of being irreverent, lacking proper respect for what has always been expected of and said about chiropractic philosophy. The audience was challenged to determine which worldview they use to determine how they know what they know or what they think they know rather than patently accepting the philosophical tenets of chiropractic. Attendees were then presented with a timeline of the history of chiropractic to see how the cultural changes since 1895 have affected the philosophy of the profession.

One speaker was particularly concerned that chiropractic philosophy has omitted the above-down arrow (as depicted in Sherman College’s logo) for too long and stressed a need for the profession to talk more about the transformation between the immaterial and material. Another made reference to recent scientific studies connecting vertebral body motion during surgery to breath. He was questioning whether the breath could serve as the vital spot or interface between the immaterial and material rather than the innate brain. To keep the fires burning, the next speaker discussed the chiropractor’s service as being an interaction with the inherent recuperative power of a person’s body rather than an intervention in something gone wrong.

The first message on day two of the conference provided attendees with a parallel between the development of chiropractic philosophy and the development of a theology. Next up was the idea that chiropractic does not belong in a health care system because chiropractic care influences so much more than the restoration of health. The two closing messages encouraged members of the profession to support the basic principles of chiropractic with current physiological understanding and to define the profession by its reason for being.

I’m sure by now you can see that the speakers did have certain “barefoot irreverence” for traditional chiropractic philosophy and how it has traditionally been regarded. We hope you’ll join us at next year’s Philosophy Conference and wrap your mind around some of the concepts that will be presented – we’re sure you will have a good time. Please remember you are also invited to submit a paper depicting your thoughts as well. Please send submissions to Bill Decken, D.C., c/o Sherman College, P.O. Box 1452, Spartanburg, SC 29304, or e-mail