What Is Medicine? Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing

What Is Medicine? Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing

What Is Medicine? Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing

What Is Medicine? Western and Eastern Approaches to Healing

Synopsis

André Bazin's What Is Cinema? (volumes I and II) have been classics of film studies for as long as they've been available and are considered the gold standard in the field of film criticism. Although Bazin made no films, his name has been one of the most important in French cinema since World War II. He was co-founder of the influential Cahiers du Cinéma, which under his leadership became one of the world's most distinguished publications. Championing the films of Jean Renoir (who contributed a short foreword to Volume I), Orson Welles, and Roberto Rossellini, he became the protégé of François Truffaut, who honors him touchingly in his forword to Volume II. This new edition includes graceful forewords to each volume by Bazin scholar and biographer Dudley Andrew, who reconsiders Bazin and his place in contemporary film study. The essays themselves are erudite but always accessible, intellectual, and stimulating. As Renoir puts it, the essays of Bazin "will survive even if the cinema does not."

Excerpt

Everyone experiences illness at some point. If we can no longer help ourselves as laypeople, we turn to medicine. In such cases, we trust in the medical interpretation of our illness. This interpretation is normally a complex theoretical edifice. It serves to explain the healthy and diseased states of the human organism. But how do such theoretical edifices come into being? Can a shrewd observer identify the core functions of the body merely by looking at it? Does the body have sufficient force of expression to disclose to us the explanations backing up medical thought and practice?

The answer to these questions is offered by the past two millennia of Western and Chinese medicine: fundamental theories about the functioning of the human organism cannot have arisen solely from observation of the body. The image we construct of the body invariably requires a model external to that body. Stimuli for interpretations of the human organism always originate in life experience and in an actual or desired living environment. A medical theory is plausible if it mirrors our own life experience and an actual or desired living environment, simultaneously integrating knowledge of the body’s verifiable structures.

This book depicts the fascinating development of medical thought in West and East. It shows for the first time, continuously for both civilizations, the close bond between medical thought and the prevailing social and economic conditions governing man’s living environment. Surprisingly, there is a far-reaching, cross-cultural parallelism of traditions spanning two millennia. Why did “Western medicine,” grounded in European culture, find such an enthusiastic reception in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? Will “Chinese medicine” gain longterm importance as a dynamic, independent form of alternative therapy . . .

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