Why Here? Why Now?

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:
Why Here? Why Now?

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This chapter examines the idea that laws in society limit the arbitrariness of a ruler if a social philosophy gains acceptance that sees the ruler as subject to the laws. Laws in nature limit the arbitrariness of the gods, if the worldview seeing the gods as subject to the laws prevails. Both tendencies were noticed in ancient Chinese social theory and religion. Chinese religion was, with the emergence of the natural sciences, markedly depersonalized and ritualized in a way that secured harmony among the people, but did not promote the worship of deities. The attraction of Buddhism, introduced in the first century ad from India, clearly shows that the dominant worldview in China basically had nothing to offer that could come to meet the desire of many people for a god the father or god the mother. The idea of the regularity of nature may therefore have also complied with political interests in the Warring States period and later. The basic conditions for the emergence of medicine in China were thus fulfilled.

Keywords: Chinese religion; emergence of medicine; Chinese social theory; Buddhism; social philosophy

Chapter.  980 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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