Humans Are Biologically Identical across Cultures. So Why Not Medicine?

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:
Humans Are Biologically Identical across Cultures. So Why Not Medicine?

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This chapter discusses various aspects that are shared by and various differences between the two medical traditions of East and West. Constant efforts by researchers, naturalists, and clinically practicing physicians in direct contact with patients has led to continuously better insights. The source of differences between the medical traditions in the East and West is the differences arising from religious and cultural distinctiveness. In China as in Europe, there have always been diverse groups subscribing to different ideas about the causes of illness and how to prevent or treat illness. It is assumed that the biological foundations of intelligence exist to the same extent in all civilizations. It is also assumed that the biological foundations of illness and health are almost identical everywhere. There is an evidence of minor differences such as in the endowment of enzymes in various populations that lead to variations in the tolerance of milk products or alcohol.

Keywords: medical traditions; medical progress; technological progress; religious and cultural distinctiveness; illness

Chapter.  880 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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