The true structure and workings of the human body are, we casually assume, everywhere the same, a universal reality. But when we look into the past, our sense of reality wavers: accounts of the body in diverse medical traditions often seem to describe mutually alien, almost unrelated worlds. How can perceptions of something as basic and intimate as the body differ so? In this book, Shigehisa Kuriyama explores this fundamental question, elucidating the fascinating contrasts between the human body described in classical Greek medicine and the body as envisaged by physicians in ancient China. Revealing how perceptions of the body and conceptions of personhood are intimately linked, his comparative inquiry invites us, indeed compels us, to reassess our own habits of feeling and perceiving.
The Expressiveness of the Body was awarded the 2001 Welch Medal by the American Association for the History of Medicine.
“Kuriyama frames the contrast between medicine in China and in the West with a brilliant and marvelously detailed analysis of ancient Greek and Chinese medicine. All told, this is an astonishingly original reading of early medicine.” — Arthur Kleinman, Harvard Medical School and Harvard University
“Kuriyama offers the reader not just a history of ancient beliefs about the body, but an inspiring account of different ways of inhabiting the world.” — Geoffrey Lloyd, University of Cambridge
“A masterpiece of historical scholarship. Beautifully written, the book challenges our conventional ways of seeing and discerning reality.” — Günter B. Risse, University of California, San Francisco