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Medical missionaries to China and the reformation of anatomy

PainSci » bibliography » Fu 2014
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One article on PainSci cites Fu 2014: ‘Reductionism’ Is Not an Insult

PainSci commentary on Fu 2014: ?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

According to some, cultural and religious (Confucian) taboos made anatomical and physiological reduction difficult by making autopsy taboo. I’ve seen the no-dissection-in-China claim made in many contexts, but disputed in others, and I have no way of readily resolving it. However, this paper makes it fairly clear that dissection probably was mostly avoided in China for centuries, whether it was impeded by a taboo or something else.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

The earliest record of human anatomy in chapters of the Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic is likely to be based upon proper dissections. The first incident of human dissection for medical purpose documented in the History of Han Dynasty occurred in AD 13. During the Sung dynasty, a physician prepared illustrations of internal organs of executed criminals, published in 1113 as the Images of Truth. Successive Chinese medical treatises have plagiarized but preserved the anatomical diagrams without improvements or modifications. China had to wait till the mid-19th century for Anglo-American Protestant medical missionaries to bring about a complete and permanent reformation of anatomical science.

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