Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet

Paperback | December 20, 2016

byJanet Gyatso

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Critically exploring medical thought in a cultural milieu with no discernible influence from the European Enlightenment, Being Human in a Buddhist World reveals an otherwise unnoticed intersection of early modern sensibilities and religious values in traditional Tibetan medicine. It further studies the adaptation of Buddhist concepts and values to medical concerns and suggests important dimensions of Buddhism's role in the development of Asian and global civilization.

Through its unique focus and sophisticated reading of source materials, Being Human adds a crucial chapter in the larger historiography of science and religion. The book opens with the bold achievements in Tibetan medical illustration, commentary, and institution building during the period of the Fifth Dalai Lama and his regent, Desi Sangye Gyatso, then looks back to the work of earlier thinkers, tracing a strategically astute dialectic between scriptural and empirical authority on questions of history and the nature of human anatomy. It follows key differences between medicine and Buddhism in attitudes toward gender and sex and the moral character of the physician, who had to serve both the patient's and the practitioner's well-being. Being Human in a Buddhist World ultimately finds that Tibetan medical scholars absorbed ethical and epistemological categories from Buddhism yet shied away from ideal systems and absolutes, instead embracing the imperfectability of the human condition.

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Critically exploring medical thought in a cultural milieu with no discernible influence from the European Enlightenment, Being Human in a Buddhist World reveals an otherwise unnoticed intersection of early modern sensibilities and religious values in traditional Tibetan medicine. It further studies the adaptation of Buddhist concepts ...

Janet Gyatso is Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at Harvard University, where she serves on the faculty of the Divinity School, in the Study of Religion, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and Inner Asian and Altaic Studies. Her writing has centered on Tibetan Buddhism and its cultural and intellectual history from the persp...

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$69.04 online$72.95list price(save 5%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:544 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:December 20, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164971

ISBN - 13:9780231164979

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsAcknowledgmentsA Technical NoteAbbreviationsIntroductionPart I: In the Capital1. Reading Paintings, Painting the Medical, Medicalizing the State2. Anatomy of an Attitude: Medicine Comes of AgePart II: Bones of Contention3. The Word of the Buddha4. The Evidence of the Body: Medical Channels. Tantric Knowing5. Tangled Up in System: The Heart, in the Text and in the HandCoda: Influence, Rhetoric, and Riding Two Horses at OncePart III: Roots of the Profession6. Women and Gender7. The Ethics of Being Human: The Doctor's Formation in a Material RealmConclusion: Ways and Means for MedicineNotesBibliographiesIndex

Editorial Reviews

[Being Human in a Buddhist World] greatly increases our understanding of Tibetan medical history, and could complement well readings in a graduate course on the history of science or medicine in Asia.