I See Something You Don't See

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:
I See Something You Don't See

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Some ancient Chinese observers had suggested circulation both of qi, the most finely dispersed, breathlike material, and blood. The blood and qi flowed through a complex system of vessels, here and there, to and fro, and early Chinese authors described two closed circulations in the body, each on the left and right sides, in which the flow proceeded as in a ring, without beginning or end. The ancient Greeks saw no circulation but they saw vessels and described them in detail. After all, the fluids in the body, particularly the four humors, had to reach all the regions. The focus in China was also on vessels long before an ancient version of the idea of circulation had been formulated there. The political terminology preferred by early medical authors in China makes the source of the impulses quite clear. The Chinese, through their choice of terminology, identified the national economy of the unified kingdom as the impulse. In Greek antiquity, as Empedocles and others formulated their ideas and profound doctrines there was no explicit model image of a great social circulation as there was in China following the unification of the kingdom.

Keywords: body vessels; closed circulations; body fluids; national economy; Greek antiquity

Chapter.  2368 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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