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Lecture 3

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Global Asia Studies

Global Asia Studies Lecture 3 o This week focus to anatomy (views on the structure of the human body), physiology (views on the functioning of the human body), and diagnosis of disease. Particular attention to Classical South Asian, Tibetan and Chinese medical views. o This week’s readings primarily focuses on how the body works and how it is viewed to work through the perspective of a physician  It will discuss topics mainly on the pulse diagnosis in Greece, China, Tibet and South Asia o There are various forms of medicine. Allopathy or bio-medicine is the non-natural, man-made forms of treatment, usually require testing – results –sales – and the fusion of chemicals, based on the idea of it should be tested by science before it is capable of treating patients o Reading 3.1 – Part 1: The Pulse in Classical Greece and China  Talks about what pulse is and what it represents and speaks of pulse as if it were a person  Standard two finger pulse measurement on the wrist along the pulsing artery  Haptic – anything to do with experience of touch  Palpation – physical examination by touch o Early Greek physicians and people believed that:  They give items that come up in their debates; jealousies and suspicions  Composed seven extended treaties on the pulse; physicians declared that nothing more than the pulse is important;  Pulse was referred to as the language of life  Give terminology to discuss the topics  Pulse is extremely puzzling to them  At one point believed that pulse felt was from inflammation from wound that gave throbbing pulses  Sphygmoi – or pluse, named throbbing and pulsing in their concrete multiplicity; refers to a variety of pulses, such as the large pulse, the small pulse, the quick pulse, and the slow pulse  Palmos – which are the palpitates ~ abnormal movements in the blood vessels and elsewhere, and the difference between them was frequently unclear  Scientific method of thinking comes up here  Pulse diagnosis - European doctors felt for the “pulse”  The pulse was “overlooked” by Hippocratic physicians, those keen observers. But our impulse is to regard this as a perceptual lapse, an odd failure to notice something already there, waiting to be noticed  When we feel when we place our fingers on the wrist, and palpate the movements there – we call it the pulsing artery  Anatomy helped to refine the work of the pulse, it framed the very possibility of imagining the pulse  Greek sphygmology was born with the assertion that whatever similarities they might present to the touch, pulsation, palpitation, tremor, and spasm differ in the structures that underlie them  The artery was a visible structure, the pulse was set of motions; motions were inaccessible to sight thus the pulse had to be felt  What our fingers feel, the empiricists contended, is merely the sensation of being struck. We don’t actually perceive the artery expanding and contracting. We only infer diastole and systole. Empirically the pulse is nothing more than a series of beats and pauses  Greek diagnosticians evinced little interest in, or even awareness of, the differing feel of the pulse in distant parts – since the arteries all spring from the heart, doctors expected traits like speed, frequency, and rhythm to be the same in them all  Talks of the Greek dichotomy of structure and function – the split between artery and pulse o Early classical Chinese viewed pulse as:  Preferred to feel the pulse before hearing about the illness, up to the patient to take or discern the advice of the physician  Considered the meaning of what they fingers felt came upon the site at which pulse was felt  They had the notion of three pulse point per hand: thus 12 possible readings were able to happen  Chinese doctors recognized four ways to judge person’s conditions – gazing (wang), listening and smelling (wen), questioning (wen), and touching (qie). In practice however, their attentions concentrated mainly on qiemo, palpating the mo.  Up until the 19 century, talk of medicine in China first called to mind this “ skill in pulses”  Qiemo - Chinese doctors felt for the mo – indicated palpation of the various mo, that is, a procedure for tracking changes in the conduits that so powerfully affected the body’s pains and powers ~ there are 12 different mo  The finger placed lightly on the right wrist, at the cun position, diagnosed the large intestines, while the finger next to it discerned the state of the stomach  Pressing harder, these two fingers probed, respectively, the flourishing or decline of the lungs and spleen.  Under each finger, then, doctors separated a superficial (fu) site, and felt near the body surgace, from a sunken (chen) site deeper down.  There were six pulses under the index, middle, and ring finders, and twelve pulses on the two wrists combined  Floating pulse: light beat of the pulse, Sunken pulse: the heavier beat of the pulse told two different information about a human’s health  The disposition of sites thus roughly mirrored the spatial organization of the body. The upper position corresponded to the body above the diaphragm, the middle position to between the diaphragm and the navel, and the lower position to the lower body  A unifying assumption ran through them all – all approaches took for granted that the meaning of what the fingers felt depended on where they felt it – different from European place as in Chinese medicine there is the belief in the significance of place
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