Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen

Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in an Ancient Chinese Medical Text: With an appendix: The Doctrine of the Five Periods and Six Qi in the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen

Paul U. Unschuld
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 536
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1ppf4w
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  • Book Info
    Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen
    Book Description:

    TheHuang Di nei jing su wen,known familiarly as theSu wen,is a seminal text of ancient Chinese medicine, yet until now there has been no comprehensive, detailed analysis of its development and contents. At last Paul U. Unschuld offers entry into this still-vital artifact of China's cultural and intellectual past. Unschuld traces the history of theSu wento its origins in the final centuries B.C.E., when numerous authors wrote short medical essays to explain the foundations of human health and illness on the basis of the newly developed vessel theory. He examines the meaning of the title and the way the work has been received throughout Chinese medical history, both before and after the eleventh century when the text as it is known today emerged. Unschuld's survey of the contents includes illuminating discussions of the yin-yang and five-agents doctrines, the perception of the human body and its organs, qi and blood, pathogenic agents, concepts of disease and diagnosis, and a variety of therapies, including the new technique of acupuncture. An extensive appendix, furthermore, offers a detailed introduction to the complicated climatological theories ofWu yun liu qi("five periods and six qi"), which were added to theSu wenby Wang Bing in the Tang era. In an epilogue, Unschuld writes about the break with tradition and innovative style of thought represented by theSu wen.For the first time, health care took the form of "medicine," in that it focused on environmental conditions, climatic agents, and behavior as causal in the emergence of disease and on the importance of natural laws in explaining illness. Unschuld points out that much of what we surmise about the human organism is simply a projection, reflecting dominant values and social goals, and he constructs a hypothesis to explain the formation and acceptance of basic notions of health and disease in a given society. Reading theSu wen,he says, not only offers a better understanding of the roots of Chinese medicine as an integrated aspect of Chinese civilization; it also provides a much needed starting point for discussions of the differences and parallels between European and Chinese ways of dealing with illness and the risk of early death.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92849-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. PREFATORY REMARKS
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Paul U. Unschuld
  4. I Bibliographic History of the Su wen
    (pp. 1-7)

    TheHuang Di nei jing su wen黃 帝 内 經 素 問 and theHuang Di nei jing ling shu黃 帝 内 經 靈 樞 form a textual corpus generally known as theHuang Di nei jing.¹ Popular accounts of the history of Chinese medicine tend to locate the origin of this text in a distant past, several millennia b.c. Voices refuting authorship by the legendary Huang Di in prehistoric times have been heard in China for centuries, and to this day there is a discrepancy between views held by historians of Chinese medicine in and outside China,...

  5. II The Meaning of the Title Huang Di nei jing su wen
    (pp. 8-21)

    Long Bojian 龍 伯 堅 explains the association of theNei jingwith Huang Di with two arguments. First, theNei jingemphasizes the yin-yang and the five-agents doctrines, which, according to theShi ji, had been introduced by Zou Yan 鄒 衍. Because Zou Yan, in turn, venerated Huang Di, theNei jingwas given his name.

    Second, Long Bojian quotes a passage from theHuai nan zi淮 南 子 of the second century b.c.: “The ordinary people often venerate the old and despise the new. Hence those who set up the Way are forced to do so...

  6. III Early Su wen Texts and Commentaries before the Eleventh Century
    (pp. 22-58)

    In about a.d. 260 a man named Huangfu Mi (215–282) wrote the first medical text transmitted to the present containing historically datable contents that can be traced to the textus receptus of theSu wen. Huangfu Mi, whose childhood name was Jing 靜 and whose style name was Shian 士 安 , was renowned enough to be remembered with a biography by the authors of the official history of the Jin dynasty. He is portrayed as a knowledgeable author who wrote texts on a broad range of topics. Originally not a medical specialist, he became interested in health care...

  7. IV Origin and Tradition of the Textus Receptus of the Su wen
    (pp. 59-75)

    For more than two hundred fifty years, Wang Bing’s version of theSu wenwas transmitted side by side with Quan Yuanqi’sSu wen xun jieof the early sixth century. In addition, the combined edition of theSu wenand theZhen jing/Jiu juan/Ling shuin Yang Shangshan’sHuang Di nei jing tai suof the second half of the seventh century competed for the attention of scholars and practitioners with an interest in medicine. Eventually, beginning in the twelfth century, theSu wen xun jieand theHuang Di nei jing tai sufell into oblivion, and the...

  8. v A Survey of the Contents of the Su wen
    (pp. 76-318)

    TheHuang Di nei jing su wenis a compilation of fragmentary texts written by an unknown number of authors in a period lasting from about the second or first century b.c. to the second century a.d. Some passages may have been written even later. It may well be that several of the headings of the seventy-nine discourses of the textus receptus denoted a treatise prior to its inclusion in theSu wencollection. Also, some of the titles quoted explicitly in theSu wendiscourses may have been titles of treatises incorporated elsewhere in theSu wen. However, none...

  9. VI Epilogue: Toward a Comparative Historical Anthropology of Medical Thought
    (pp. 319-350)

    The texts collected in theSu wen, as heterogeneous and at times contradictory as they may be, share at least one central feature. They reflect a deliberate break with an older tradition and the genesis of an innovative style of thought that proved to be the seed of a long-lasting new tradition. Briefly, the older tradition comprised a concept of health care on the basis of the firmly established belief that human illness was caused by demons, ancestors, and “bugs”; curing, it was believed, could be achieved by placating ancestors with prayers, by warding off demons with spells and apotropaic...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 351-384)
  11. APPENDIX The Doctrine of the Five Periods and Six Qi in the Huang Di nei jing su wen
    (pp. 385-494)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 495-502)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 503-520)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 521-521)