Trapped in the Cage of Tradition

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:
Trapped in the Cage of Tradition

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Chinese tradition was significantly influenced by doctrines of yin-yang and the five agents. Some observers of nature and physicians also introduced demons to the tradition. Experts has different views on demons such as some argued that everything was imagined and others claimed that it was a reality of environment. In the middle of the sixteenth century, Li Shizhen, wrote his summary of the study of Chinese pharmaceutical drugs, the Bencao gang mu. It contains knowledge of botany, hygiene, and other areas that Europe only developed very much later. Some observers looked downward in the search for reality. Printed texts were the foundation of medical theory and practice. But only the theory and practice of a small minority was actually based on these texts. Ninety percent of the population of China knew nothing about these texts and followed entirely different thoughts in response to illness. Hardly anyone paid attention to this knowledge and no one wanted to learn anything from the common people.

Keywords: doctrines of yin-yang; Chinese pharmaceutical drugs; medical theory; therapeutics; medications

Chapter.  1101 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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