By Shigehisa Kuriyama
On the middle of clinical background is a deep enigma.The real constitution and workings of the human physique are, we casually think, all over an identical, a common truth. yet then we glance into the previous, and our experience of fact wavers: money owed of the physique in diversified clinical traditions usually appear to describe jointly alien, nearly unrelated worlds.The Expressiveness of the physique meditates at the contrasts among the human physique defined in classical Greek drugs and the physique as envisaged via physicians in historic China. It asks how this most simple of human realities got here to be conceived by way of refined civilizations in appreciably diverging methods. And it seeks solutions in clean and unforeseen themes, similar to the historical past of tactile wisdom, the connection among methods of seeing and methods of listening, and the evolution of bloodletting.
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Extra info for The expressiveness of the body and the divergence of Greek and Chinese medicine
They tell us little, though, about the inner content of this gesture, about how and what the fingers really knew. Ancient Greek and Chinese doctors both fastened eventually on the wrist, which itself is noteworthy. There is, we've learned, nothing instinctive or obvious about the gesture; the worlds of knowledge that it opened up were unknown even to Hippocrates. Its common emergence in Greek and Chinese medicine, therefore, hints at latent affinities in the way the two traditions evolved. Our present concern is with difference, however, and with the complexity of the act of touching.
Many believed, however, that there was no other way truly to understand the pulse. hilus, the pulse communicated its message through these elements: size, speed, strength, rhythm, order and disorder, regularity and irregularity. Except for strength, all these required taking the exact measure, in space and in time, of the expanding and receding artery. In Galen's analysis, ·size was composed of length, breadth, and height. Along each dimension, the artery's dilation might be excessive (long, broad, high), deficient (short, narrow, or low), or in between.
Nonetheless, the fact that they once thought it meaningful and necessary to feel for the heat or coolness of the rno reminds us of the close kinship between Chinese "pulse taking" and palpation of the skin. erno and the inspection of the chi were parallel fOFms of touching whose revelations were tightly entwined. Judging slipperiness or roughness was basic to both. At times, one's fingers slide smoothly and effortlessly over the skin; at other times they catch·and drag, and one has to pull them along, consciously.