Chapter

Confucians' Fear of Chaos

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/9780520257658.003.0028
Confucians' Fear of Chaos

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The idea that a body as an organism has self-interest and tries to heal its own wounds and overcome difficult crises on its own is based on the model image of the self-regulating, autonomous polis. The polis had transformed itself from the monarchy and the rule of the noble families into a democratic structure that was optimal for the situation of the time, a democracy in which the citizens were the sovereigns of their own fates through their meetings. The polis was a social organism and it was entirely unavoidable that its structures lent the plausibility needed for the explanatory model of the self-healing powers to find general acceptance. The fact that sickness heals on its own is also described repeatedly in the ancient Chinese literature. The ancient Chinese literature does not contain descriptions of the course of a normally fatal illness taking an unanticipated and unexpected turn for the better. China has never known trust in the self-regulating powers of the pan-societal organism.

Keywords: ancient Chinese literature; social organism; self-healing powers; sickness; healing; fatal illness; ancient Greek literature

Chapter.  1545 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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