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Hygienic ModernityMeanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China$
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Ruth Rogaski

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520240018

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520240018.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

“Conquering the One Hundred Diseases”

“Conquering the One Hundred Diseases”

Weisheng before the Twentieth Century

(p.22) 1 “Conquering the One Hundred Diseases”
Hygienic Modernity


University of California Press

This chapter explores the occurrences of weisheng in Chinese texts published before the twentieth century. It also explains the translation of premodern weisheng as “guarding life.” It is noted that curing sickness before it happens requires an ability to discern the underlying patterns of the universe. The initial perceptible qualities and the most fundamental divisions within Chinese cosmology are yin and yang. An understanding of the properties of food and their proper combination was essential to guarding life. The potent ability of food to affect the human organism is clearly demonstrated by the inclusion of foodstuffs in many materia medica or medical texts. “Guarding life” is an appropriate phrase to describe the preservation of health in a system where the primary vitalities are so susceptible to injury, depletion, and exhaustion. The way of weisheng promises to guard life against depletion caused by the inevitable injuries of living itself.

Keywords:   weisheng, guarding life, twentieth century, sickness, Chinese cosmology, human organism, health

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