Dr. Unschuld's translation of the I hsu Yuan Liu Lun of 1757 written by Hsu Ta-chun is a text for scholars, for students of Chinese language and culture, and for clinicians who seek to advance their clinical skill by understanding Chinese medical thought. But most importantly, it is a text for anyone who has ever been inspired by the ideal of a scholar-physician. It is our first chance, and perhaps our last, to let a superior practitioner speak for himself.
The author, Hsu Ta-chun, was a scholar and medical doctor who wrote in the eighteenth century immediately prior to the introduction of Western science and medicine to China. He influenced the history of medicine because the medicine he championed was pristine in method and logic. In any period, or any culture, Hsu would have been a remarkable thinker.
A literate, broadly skilled scholar, he practiced medicine as an expression of personal and social responsibility. He could both recognize others for their accomplishments and express a calculated and literate anger for those who had corrupted the art of medicine.
He was a conservative who understood the practical necessities of patient care, a literati capable of both compassion and indignation. In the extensive prologue by Dr. Unschuld, we learn that while Chinese medicine did differ from Western medicine, offering a holistic view of disease and the human who suffers, Hsu Ta-chun and his eighteenth- century European contemporaries would not have regarded one another as strangers. Using examples from Hsu Ta-chun's 100 essays, Dr. Unschuld shows us how an expert Asian clinician considered and solved the mysteries of clinical practice.
This is a rare text that is of value for historians, philologists, and philosophers, while of direct import to clinicians. By speaking his opinions clearly and reporting on an art with which he was deeply intimate, Hsu Ta-chun has bequeathed a richly detailed vision of Chinese medicine at its height.