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01/23/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

NYU Shanghai Lecture: Fluid Fire

The Rise of Phlegm within the Chinese World

Natalie Köhle

Medical treatises of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) make constant reference to phlegm (tan 痰) as both cause and consequence of disease. Phlegm figures as a central, indispensable concept in the Chinese imagination of the body and its pathologies. Curiously, however, the Huangdi neijing 黃帝內經 (first cent. B.C.), the earliest and foundational classic of Chinese medicine, does not mention it at all. The rise to prominence of the discourse of phlegm represents one of the most important changes in Chinese medical theory after the classical period. What does this transformation mean, and how did it occur?
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