The present work is guided by two central ideas: that medical traditions are based on coherent forms of practice and belief about illnesses, and that these systems are embedded in the symbols and world views that characterize the historical differences between civilizations. These new essays by leading scholars from Europe and North America focus on issues in the humoral and biomedical traditions of several Asian countries.
How do patients and practitioners know what they know? What kinds and categories of information constitute evidence about pathological processes? What reasoning do they find persuasive, and under what circumstances? From the perspectives of history and cultural anthropology, the authors consider problems of knowledge in Chinese medicine, the Hindu-Buddhist traditions of South Asian medicine, and the Greco-Arabic traditions of Islamic medicine. Whether discussing Japanese anatomy texts or popular culture, Chinese case histories or burial practices, Islamic humoralism or clinical reasoning, in Ayurveda, the essays in Paths to Asian Medical Knowledge are richly documented, interesting to read, and suggest new theoretical avenues for medical anthropology.