November 25, 1974

The Theoretical Foundations of Chinese Medicine: Systems of Correspondence

Author Affiliations

University of California San Francisco


by Manfred Porkert, 368 pp, 81 illus, $13.95, MIT Press, 1974.

JAMA. 1974;230(8):1203. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240080077045

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Western readers may hopefully assume that this book will afford them easy access to the intricacies of Chinese medicine in general, and acupuncture in particular. This, however, is by no means the case, as the book, true to its title, stresses predominantly the theoretical foundations of Chinese medicine, ie, structure and function of the human body as seen from the traditional Chinese point of view. Acupuncture is, of course, also included, as it does belong to Chinese medicine from its very beginning, but it is treated almost coincidentally, without any detailed explanation of technique and purpose. Acupuncture points are listed under the organs that they serve. They are named by their Latin anatomical designations, by their Chinese names in transliteration, as well as by their Chinese ideographs, which clearly denote their original meaning.

On the whole, the book assumes a great deal of prior knowledge of Chinese natural philosophy on