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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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II Fundamental Concepts of Classical Chinese Philosophy (180367)


118 Our present-day historical consciousness, as well as our consciousness of our present situation, is determined … by the conception of the Axial Period. - Karl Theodor Jaspers165 Introduction The years from 800 B.C. to 200 B.C., esp. from 600 B.C. to 300 B.C. are the period of emergence of great philosophers of different cultures, which are named as the Axial Age in The Origin and Goal of History (1953) by Karl Theodor Jaspers. The Axial Age is a turning point in human history. In the years centering around 500 B.C., great advances in religion, philosophy, science, democracy, and many forms of art occurred independently and almost simultaneously in China, India, the Middle East, and Greece. India experienced a dramatic socio-political and intellectual transformation, and produced the teachings of the Buddha (563-483 B.C.?) and Mahavira (599-527 B.C.). Like China, new teachings ran the whole gamut of philosophical thoughts of school, including even skepticism, materialism, sophism, and nihilism. In Palestine, the prophets Elijah (9th century B.C.), Isaiah (8th century B.C.), Jeremiah (645-585 B.C.?), and Book of Isaiah166 made their appearance. The law and moral code of the Israelites dates back to before this age. In ancient Mesopotamia, cultural developments were relatively close to those in ancient Israel. However, concepts including the belief in a transcendent creator God, and full subservience of the political rulers to a God did not materialize. In Greece, developments were more philosophical than spiritual. Greece witnessed the appearance of Thales (624-545 B.C.?), Xenophanes (431-355 B.C.?), and Heraclitus (540-470...

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