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7 Honzōgaku after Seibutsugaku: Traditional Pharmacology as Antiquarianism after the Institutionalization of Modern Biology in Early Meiji Japan

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Chapter Summary

This essay describes how in the early Meiji period the traditional discipline of materia medica (honzōgaku) lost its name but transferred two centuries of knowledge, research, data, images, techniques, attitudes, styles, facilities, expertise, schools, social relations, books, and specimens to the practitioners of the new scientific fields of biology and medicine. At the same time, honzōgaku became the name—associated with that of kanpōyaku, now referring to traditional (Chinese) medicine—of a lost tradition, of a forgotten wisdom, of alternative practices, of a repository of Asian identity that became the object of antiquarian research in antagonistic opposition to Western medicine.



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