Acupuncture, Expertise and Cross-Cultural Medicine by Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)

By Roberta E. Bivins (auth.)

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That national genius, however, was of a particular kind: `The people discover no want of genius to conceive . . and their imitative powers have always been acknowledged to be very great . . '85 Despite Barrow's attribution of at least the potential for creative genius to Chinese artisans, he clearly did not consider them to be on a par with their British counterparts. Of their medicine (a professional, rather than labouring science) he was utterly disdainful: [T]he whole medical skill of the Chinese may be summed up in the words of the ingenious Doctor Gregory .

13 Staunton and Barrow were both educated ± Staunton took an MA in medicine from Montpellier ± and both could afford a comprehensive knowledge of the mores and manners of European physic (although Barrow, coming from a smallholding family, experienced elite medicine first in his patron's household, as tutor to Staunton's son). In each case, their disapproval stemmed largely from their disbelief of the alien diagnostic techniques used in Chinese medicine. Barrow described this strange behaviour explicitly as `performance', and shared with Staunton the comparison of pulse-reading to the showy gestures of a harpsichordist.

With exquisite pain to the patient . . [T]he disease continued in its usual course: but this, from the authority and information of his pulses, was entirely owing to the obstinacy of the vapour . . 42 In this passage, Staunton was ostensibly describing the specific practice and rationale followed by the Chinese physicians. He also conveyed the far more damaging impression that they diagnosed Ho-Shen according to their dogmas about the pulse rather than observation: `After a full examination of the Colao's pulses, they had early decided .

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