‘Knowing the Why but not the How’: A Dilemma in Contemporary Chinese Medicine

in Asian Medicine

Abstract

This paper explores how modernisation of Chinese medicine has transformed Chinese medicine doctors, as they like to say, from ‘knowing the how but not the why’ to ‘knowing the why but not the how.’ Through unfolding the multi-faceted connotations and associations of these proverbial formulas in the Chinese medicine field, we show the inevitable dilemma troubling many Chinese medicine doctors, who feel they are stuck between the institutional demands of catching up with the latest scientific knowledge and continuing the eminently effective features of Chinese medicine in practice. The crisis of ‘knowing the why but not the how’ demonstrates that, despite rather thoroughgoing scientisation, there are continuing conflicts between the modes of knowing characteristic of Chinese medicine and modern science, which result from the assumed hierarchy of knowing.

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‘Knowing the Why but not the How’: A Dilemma in Contemporary Chinese Medicine

in Asian Medicine

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