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The Dangers of ‘Warming and Replenishing’ (wenbu 溫補) during the Ming to Qing Epistemic Transition

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Through a case study of Zhao Xianke’s 趙獻可 One Principle through Medicine (Yiguan 醫貫) (1617?) and Xu Dachun’s 徐大椿 (1693–1771) denouncements of this text, my article zooms in on divergent discourses on the safety and efficacy of medicinal substances and compounds in late imperial China. Although Xu Dachun’s fierce attacks on the popular ‘warming and replenishing’ (wenbu 溫補) therapies can be situated in an epistemic shift from the cosmology of ‘Song learning’ (songxue 宋學) towards the philology of ‘Han learning’ (hanxue 漢學) and ‘evidential research’ (kaozheng 考證), I argue that more complex issues were at stake as well. Changed political, social, ethical, and economic realities shaped new and multifaceted perceptions of the nature of medicine, the medical profession, and the usage of medicinals in the aftermath of the Ming to Qing transition.

Affiliations: 1: University of Westminster


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