By Shigehisa Kuriyama
On the center of scientific heritage is a deep enigma.The real constitution and workings of the human physique are, we casually suppose, all over the place a similar, a common fact. yet then we glance into the prior, and our experience of truth wavers: bills of the physique in assorted scientific traditions frequently appear to describe jointly alien, virtually unrelated worlds.The Expressiveness of the physique meditates at the contrasts among the human physique defined in classical Greek drugs and the physique as envisaged by means of physicians in historical China. It asks how this most simple of human realities got here to be conceived through subtle civilizations in greatly diverging methods. And it seeks solutions in clean and unforeseen issues, corresponding to the historical past of tactile wisdom, the connection among methods of seeing and methods of listening, and the evolution of bloodletting.
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Additional resources for The expressiveness of the body and the divergence of Greek and Chinese medicine
This is one legacy of Greek sphygmology ~ the bifurcation of the artery and the pulse, the structure and the motion. Lu Gwei-djen andJoseph Needham state flatly that the word roo had two meanings, and they even represent them with two separate Chinese characters. 82 But this obscures the guiding logic of Chinese palpation. Qjeroo began as and essentially remained exactly what its name 44 GRASPING THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE indicated: palpation of the various rno, that is, a procedure for tracking changes in the conduits that so powerfully affected the body's pains and powers.
Our present concern is with difference, however, and with the complexity of the act of touching. Two people can place their fingers on the "same" place and yet feel entirely different things. Where Greek doctors latched onto the pulse, Chinese doctors interrogated the mo. The divergence was as much a matter of experience as it was of theory. Greek and Chinese doctors knew the body differently because they felt it differently. 55 Figure 5. 76,Wellcome Institute Library, London. Figures 7 and 8. PUlsetaking in traditional Japan from the collection of the International Research Center forJapanese Studies.
57 He grasped it: the systole was knowable by the touch after all. Though he confessed: "Final knowledge seems to require all of a lifetime:'58 Try, yourself, to perceive more than beats and pauses, to follow the swell and fall of the artery, and you appreciate Galen's toils. Did you really feel the contraction? Or just imagine it? How can you be sure? The motion is so quick. You probably would never feel it if you didn't anticipate it. But does the anticipation then corrupt the experience? There is something dreamlike about the history of generations upon generations of physicians struggling in this way, each concentrating furiously for months, years, on tiny motions of eye-blink swiftness flickering under their fingers, each trying desperately to sort out genuine perceptions from inferences and 35 STY L E S 0 F TO U CH IN G hallucinations.
The expressiveness of the body and the divergence of Greek and Chinese medicine by Shigehisa Kuriyama