Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen: Nature, Knowledge, Imagery in An Ancient Chinese Medical Text

By Paul U. Unschuld | Go to book overview

II
The Meaning of the Title
Huang Di nei jing su wen

1. HUANG DI $

Long Bojian sBexplains the association of the Nei jing with Huang Di with two arguments. First, the Nei jing emphasizes the yin-yang and the fiveagents doctrines, which, according to the Shi ji, had been introduced by Zou Yan Ql. Because Zou Yan, in turn, venerated Huang Di, the Nei jing was given his name.

Second, Long Bojian quotes a passage from the Huai nan zi anl 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 under the names of Shen nong and Huang Di, and it is only then that they may enter the discourse.” 1

Although these arguments appear inadequate to explain why this particular Nei jing was published under the pseudonym Huang Di rather than Shen nong, Bian Que, or Bai shi, the Huai nan zi at least informs us that it may have been common knowledge by the second century B.C. that scriptures carrying the names of the ancient culture heroes in their titles had not necessarily been written by these persons themselves.

Of the 79 discourses constituting the textus receptus of the Su wen, 68 are structured as dialogues between Huang Di and one of three advisers, Qi Bo (60 dialogues), Lei Gong (7 dialogues), and Gui Yuqu $ (1 dialogue). A similar distribution of dialogues and nondialogue discourses is found in the Ling shu. Its dialogue partners include, in addition to Qi Bo and Lei Gong, Bo Gao $, Shao Shi $, and Shao Yu $.

Most of the dialogues, Tessenow concludes from his analysis of historical layers in the Su wen, were the work of compilers who construed them as a device to link originally separate texts. The questions and answers put in

-8-

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