Science and Medicine in Chinese History

Paul S. Ropp

in Heritage of China

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1990 | ISBN: 9780520064409
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520908932 | DOI:
Science and Medicine in Chinese History

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This chapter discusses Chinese Taoism and Buddhism that contrast very sharply with the Judeo-Christian tradition. It argues that it was largely their continued possession of religious writings that gave them coherence as traditions over space and time and that this textual legacy makes them uniquely approachable to researchers from outside the Chinese cultural world. Despite its borrowings from Buddhism, Taoism had very ancient roots in China, and it retained a distinctly Chinese outlook, particularly with regard to social and political questions over which Buddhism came into conflict with Chinese ways of thinking. The collapse of the T'ang dynasty deeply affected Taoism and Buddhism. Both Chinese Buddhism and Taoism are generally much more interested in practice than belief. One can point to a Taoist “ten commandments” but not to any Taoist creed, and the same essentially holds true for Buddhism as well.

Keywords: Chinese Taoism; Chinese Buddhism; religious writings; China; T'ang dynasty

Chapter.  12240 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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