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Culture, Philosophy, and Chinese Medicine

Viennese Lectures


Fengli Lan

Chinese medicine is a culturally dependent art of healing deeply rooted in the culture and philosophy of the country it originated from: China. This book has three independent but progressive parts, each bearing the title of one of the three courses taught by the author as a visiting professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Vienna University, in the 2010-2011 winter semester, namely: Overview of Chinese Culture through Chinese Characters, Fundamental Concepts of Classical Chinese Philosophy and The Importance of Metaphors in Chinese Medicine, which are in the fields of philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and intercultural philosophy, aiming to reveal the essence of philosophy of Chinese language, classical Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine within the context of a global, multicultural background. This book sums up the author’s research outcome of the last few years in an area of study on culture, philosophy and Chinese medicine which has been too often misunderstood or insufficiently emphasized.


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I Overview of Chinese Culture through Chinese Characters


18 “Language is the outcome of a culture. Language of a nation is the general reflection of the culture of the nation; but we can also say that language is a part of the culture … and that culture and language have developed together for thousands of years.” - Claude Levi Strauss3 “The role of language within a culture and the influence of the culture on the meanings of words and idioms are so pervasive that scarcely any text can be adequately understood without careful consideration of its cultural background." - Eugene A. Nida4 Introduction As regards to the historical development, generally speaking, the remoter the antiquity and the slower the development. The mankind underwent a very long period of uncivilized state, and gradually has entered an age of civilization. Civilization refers to “an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached”5. One of the most important marks for a civilization is the emergence and application of a written language. Ancient civilizations all appeared along rivers for water provides essential living conditions for other living creatures such as plants and animals, and thus ensures the survival of human beings. Chinese civilization was born in the Yellow River valley, and has been developing independently for thousands of years. Chinese characters or sinograms6, the writing forms of Chinese language and one of the most important marks of Chinese civilization, emerged7 independently around 6,000 years ago, which is identified by the...

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