State Concept and Body Image

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:
State Concept and Body Image

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The ruler of Qin conquered his opponents in the year 221 bc and was able to rule over a unified China and called himself the “First Emperor of Qin.” He was able to create an integrated whole out of states that for the most part had been culturally and economically independent. He ordered a common script, common track width (on roads), and common weights and measures, thereby laying the foundation for a lasting exchange of goods and people in his kingdom that was necessary to support the huge new cities in distant parts of the country. The new state organism offered China an experience of being an organism consisting of several units, where each unit contributed to the well-being of the whole. For some philosophers of the time, the effect of this new economic and social organism on their worldview was so profound that they could not avoid internalizing the model as a whole, extending it even to their understanding of the body. The body organism in the new medicine was nothing but the state organism transferred onto the body.

Keywords: First Emperor of Qin; new cities; bureaucracy; new state organism; network of roads; social organism; economic organism

Chapter.  700 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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