Chapter

Polis, Law, and Self-determination

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520257658.003.0008
Polis, Law, and Self-determination

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The laws of nature in China received attention and were attributed importance to the extent that sociopolitical changes replaced the old morality of individual relationships with the regularity of behavior governed by laws. All worldviews in Chinese antiquity that tried to show the escape from the centuries-long Warring States period were equally suited to reestablish the desired harmony. The certainty of living in an order has evidently existed since prehistoric times in Greece. Gods, rulers, and the ruled were subjected to this order. By the sixth century bc, in some central regions of Greece, the prevailing political tendency was to free oneself from the arbitrariness of the rulers, whether gods or earthly monarchs, and to subject all actions to laws that applied equally to everyone. The small political entity of the polis made the intermittent realization of these ideals possible. The goals were to establish inherent rules of governing and individual responsibility for self-determination. This tendency created the preconditions and impulses for the new view of nature.

Keywords: laws of nature; Warring States period; yin-yang doctrine; Daoism; Greek culture

Chapter.  2184 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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