Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspondence (Asian Science Series: No. 3)

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9780262660402: Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspondence (Asian Science Series: No. 3)
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Although in the United States the scientific value of acupuncture is only now being clinically evaluated for the first time, needling is only one of a number of therapeutic disciplines which have proved effective in China for over two thousand years and which today provide common remedies for more than one quarter of the world's population. Why, asks Dr. Porkert, shouldn't medical men everywhere have access to the premises and results of this medical knowledge?

In this book he presents a coherent and systematic account of Chinese theories—the system of correspondence that underlies all of Chinese medicine—using a new and precise Latin terminology (with English equivalents provided for most terms) that he devised over the past decade. The book is based directly and exclusively on Chinese sources, including recent Chinese secondary literature.

Chapter 1 introduces the concepts that are the foundation of the system of correspondences—the polar combination yin-yang, which provides a basis for the analysis of all phenomena into complementary groups, and wu-hsing, which Dr. Porkert calls the "Five Evolutive Phases," and which are used to resolve cyclic processes into five temporally and qualitatively distinct parts. In Chapter 2 he takes up concepts which relate the body to the cosmos under the title "Phase Energetics" (yün-ch'i); these define meteorological, climatic, and immunological factors in health and disease. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on systems of concepts concerned with the body itself. The author has named these systems orbisiconography, sinarteriology, and foraminology. Orbisiconography (tsang-hsiang), the "imagery of functional orbs," describes the relationships of the functional systems within the body. It is not, as Dr. Porkert points out, analogous to but the opposite of Western comparative anatomy. Sinarteriology, the study of energetic conduits (ching-luo), and foraminology, the study of sensitive points (shu-hsüeh), indicate the functional relationships manifested at the body's surface as well as within it. The book's systematic description of these disciplines involved in acupuncture is a powerful antidote to basic misconceptions prevalent in earlier Western writing on the subject.

This is Volume III in the MIT East Asian Science series, edited by Nathan Sivin.

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Language Notes:

Text: English, German (translation)

Review:

"A classic presentation of the internal consistency of Chinese medicine. It is a book one can by in anticipation of rereading and studying it for many years."
East-West Journal

"This work is especially noteworthy for its detailed discussions of the general theoretical foundations of Chinese cosmology and such philosophical and religious principles as yin-yang, the "five elements" (wu-hsing, or what Porkert translates as the "five evolutive phases") and ch'i (matter-energy)... [It] is important for its emphasis on the dynamic-functional nature of the medical system or what Joseph Needham has called the organismic time-centeredness of Chinese ideology. In short, this is an impressive piece of philosophical, medical, and philological scholarship and represents the first serious attempt to decipher some of the meaning and significance of traditional Chinese medicine."
Religious Studies Review

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