Ethics and Legality

Paul U. Unschuld

in What Is Medicine?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780520257658
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944701 | DOI:
Ethics and Legality

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  • Medical Anthropology


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The distinct opposites of order and disorder, harmony and chaos were only knowable from social reality, after looking back at centuries of human behavior. The simultaneous projection of the concepts of order and of systematic correspondence from society onto nature could occur only after this knowledge had been attained. It led to origin of the doctrines of yin-yang and the five agents. The latter was initially conceived of expressly to explain social and political change. The doctrine of the five agents was expanded only in a second step to explain all kinds of change. Change is the temporary dominance of certain agents. The foundations for Chinese natural sciences were laid by 300 bc that led to the assumption of inherent laws. Law is the opposite of arbitrariness, or the randomness of actions, in which the decisions to act in one way or another follow no schematic instructions. They could arise from either emotions or from considerations of the present moment.

Keywords: human behavior; doctrines of yin-yang; five agents; Chinese natural sciences; ancient Chinese philosophical school

Chapter.  2057 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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