Chapter

Medicine: Expression of the General State of Mind

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/9780520257658.003.0029
Medicine: Expression of the General State of Mind

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This chapter provides a comparative look at Chinese and Greek medicine. Chinese medicine was created in an environment that recognized the exchange between various regional centers as the foundation of a new state organism, the unified empire. The idea of the relationships of various functional centers in the human organism was the most important feature of Chinese medicine for two millennia. In China, we have the impression that the yin-yang and five agents doctrines of the systematic relationships of all phenomena had the support and approval of part of the elite. The Greek medical theorists considered the doctrine of correspondences, but it was of less importance. The doctrines of the four elements, the four humors and a few other corresponding groups of four were kept very short. Greek medicine was created in an environment that recognized the autarchy of small political units as the foundation of a new state organism, the polis democracy. The exchange between various centers was of marginal importance. The significant thing was the individual center. The significance of relationships among individuals had less prominence in Greek antiquity compared to the emphasis on such relationships in China.

Keywords: Greek medicine; Chinese medicine; human organism; five agents doctrine; four elements; polis democracy

Chapter.  1311 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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