Chapter

Epistemological Issues and Changing Legitimation: Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Twentieth Century

Charles Leslie and Allan Young

in Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780520073173
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910935 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520073173.003.0003
Epistemological Issues and Changing Legitimation: Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Twentieth Century

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In China, the social ideology supporting the social system of the Imperial age constituted epistemological root, that is, the legitimizing context of traditional medicine. This chapter discusses the epistemological issues and changing legitimation of traditional Chinese medicine. With the breakdown of the traditional social structure, and with the demise of the traditional social ideologies supporting the Imperial age, and with the attempts to supply a new ideological basis to a changing social structure in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Chinese medicine lost its legitimizing environment. However, the body of knowledge identified as Chinese medicine today emerged as a result of fundamental changes in the social ideology and social structure of China at the beginning of the Imperial age. Its basically unchanged stability over exactly two millennia resulted from an unparalleled permanence of its legitimizing sociopolitical context during this time.

Keywords: China; Chinese medicine; Imperial age; social ideology; traditional social structure

Chapter.  8215 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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