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Preface:This is the academic report on difference between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine with respect to Philosophical aspect. This article has been written on the ground of different research papers, class notes, some internet researches, special lecture by Dr. Meng Xia and informal interview with some of my Chinese friends. Hence, this article is only for academic purpose.[For the sake of brevity Traditional Chinese Medicine will be depicted as TCM and Western Medicine as WM onward.]Introduction:If we look in the early human civilization people have been using whatever they found or understood to heal their body, such as saliva, mud, different herbs, sucking and massage were utilized for different purposes.
Some of them worked and some of them taught some bitter lessons. That’s how it started to culminate the current form of medicinal practice. Hence, there are lots and lots of levels of understanding and refinement in the medicinal practice for it to manifest as it is now.
Major Philosophical Contrasts:1. Fundamental Philosophical Elements:If we observe closely the underlying philosophical principle of TCM is rested upon the idea of Qi, Yin & Yang and Five Elements. Where, Yin and Yang is a theory illustrating the existence of duality in our fundamental constitution. It is to be noted that, it is not about good or bad as a moral judgment. In fact, it just reflects the contrast that is already present in the existence.Philosophically, the TCM practitioner understands the human body as a harmonious system of integrity.
To elaborate, Chinese culture has always perceived human body in terms of five basic elements, viz. wood, water, fire, earth and metal; and these elements are the aspect of life force known as Qi. If any of the element fails to maintain the balance of Yin and Yang with respect to each other, which means you are not well. Now, all the effort of TCM is to restore the balance, which implies recovery of body along with being in tune with the nature.On the other hand, Western civilization has its whole foundation on top of basic sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, et cetera. Hence, western medical approach completely relies upon biomedical advancement of anatomy, physiology and pathological aspect of modern science. And those biomedical progresses depend upon various controlled experiments of trial and error until they reach certain evidence based conclusion.2. Integrative-disintegrative approach:Traditional Chinese Medicine is the holistic and very abstract approach for treatment of a human body and has been practiced ceaselessly through more than 2,500 years along with its continuous improvement over those periods. Even though, it is orthodox in nature, its guiding principles are still same without any distortion.On the other hand, WM practitioner approaches in a disintegrative manner. That is, they are more of a concerned in pathological factor rather than overall well being. Here, they study the symptom; diagnose the cause of ailment; and treat the specific cause as if it a broken piece of machinery which needs to be mended or replaced (organ transplant). In other words, WM approaches from whole to the parts.3. Human body constituent:As per TCM, human body is constituted of complex meridian network through which our whole life energy called Qi flows throughout the body, which mainly comprises of two systems, viz. Meridian Channel (jingmai) and Associating Vessel (luomai). Here, whole body is mapped with those network; which also serve as the basic guideline for 400 different acupuncture points in our body. Besides, there is also major of role of Yin and Yang in this perspective because each meridian is associated with its respective Yin and Yang organs in pair. To put it in simple words, most of the organs in our body communicate with each other in pair, like Liver-Gall Bladder, Spleen-Stomach, Kidney-Bladder, et cetera are mutual Yin (Internal) and Yang (External) organs.On the other hand, anatomically human body is comprised of 11 different systems. Here, it should be noted that, those 11 systems (viz. Circulatory, Respiratory, et cetera) are not analogous to Meridian system of TCM. However, all of these systems functions in harmony to keep balance of the whole physiology. Now, if any of the system gets disrupted at any point, that implies we are not well. Now, the whole WM runs in the periphery of identification and cure of that point.Conclusion:Overall, Chinese people have devised a method to track back the source of ailment with the help of figurative analogs associated to nature, such as river, mountain, clouds, et cetera. Similarly Western world has devised their own way of treatment by using means and tools of modern science and technology. Hence, keeping the philosophical differences aside, there are several quintessences of both the approaches which need to be acknowledged; they should be taken as different dimensional approach with parallel and independent way of functioning. By this way we can develop some efficient universal approach by merging macroscopic & microscopic view despite of their isolated philosophies.
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