Summary Time has been of central concern in Chinese traditional medicine, and the use of temporal schedules can be studied in two originally different medical and intellectual traditions. One is the tradition embodied in the Inner Canon of the Yellow Lord (Huangdi neijing), from the first century B.C., where resonance ideas of symbolic correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm prevail. Another tradition not involved in resonance theorizing but using time sequences in analyzing the progress of acute diseases is named after its principal ancient text, the Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders (Shanghan lun) from the second century A.D. These medical frameworks were never fully integrated with each other, and developments in Qing China and Tokugawa Japan from the seventeenth century on can be analyzed in terms of a continuing conflict between basically irreconcilable ideas.
In Western countries, the study of East Asian medical traditions from the vantage point of the history of science has only recently begun. Eastern traditional medicine has attracted Western followers and exegetes given to uncritical praise, who depend on anecdotal evidence in support of criticism, directed primarily against modern scientific medicine. The field has been dominated by individuals biased against Western medicine. This situation contrasts with that of the other East Asian traditional fields of scientific knowledge such as botany, physics, and astronomy, which have been more carefully studied.
The dominance of nonacademic and pseudoacademic writing on Chinese medicine has had several undesirable consequences. One is the perpetuation of the idea of a monolithic medical tradition based on the philosophic theories of the Huangdi neijing
This paper will attempt to delineate two streams of medical ideas in ancient China, for the most part presenting internal evidence to prove that they are more independent than has been generally surmised by Western scholars. One traditional cluster of concepts is that around the Huangdi neijing (hereafter abbreviated Neijing), largely characterized by correlative thinking (that has also been called "symbolic syncretism"), numerology, and resonance ideas. The Neijing represents a vast body of writings on natural philosophy, exerting an enormous influence on Chinese scientific history. The basic concepts are those
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Publication information: Book title: Time, Science, and Society in China and the West. Contributors: J. T. Fraser - Editor, N. Lawrence - Editor, F. C. Haber - Editor. Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press. Place of publication: Amherst, MA. Publication year: 1986. Page number: 211.