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At first glance, this assertion seems improbable to say the least. This essay addresses some of the connections between Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine in both intellectual and social aspects. Section Three takes up what has been represented as a long shared history of Daoism and medicine in the works of three great Daoist physicians. Before addressing connections between Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine it is necessary to make two clarifications on the meaning of the term Chinese medicine.

Chinese medicine could in principle refer to: 1 the full range of medical systems used in contemporary China, including Western biomedicine; 2 the traditional indigenous Chinese medicine that is conventionally referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM ; and 3 other indigenous medical systems, distinct from but TCM, practiced by non-Chinese or minorities who live in areas that historically were part of China or are now part of the Peoples Republic of China, for example, Korean and Tibetan medicine. Second, Chinese medicine, in the sense of TCM just discussed, includes a wider range of practices than does Western medicine.

In particular, a clear account of Chinese medicine cannot confine itself to the first of these only. The early Chinese qualitative and quantitative sciences were specific, with no unified notion of science Sivin and Medicine and its related disciplines appear in the last section of the Bibliographic Treatise chapter 30 of the Standard History of the Han Dynasty Han shu.

This Treatise consists of six sections. But their concerns also appear in early philosophical texts to such an extent that any separation of their philosophical from their religious and technical content is arbitrary and artificial Harper and ; Kalinowski Nonetheless, Chinese philosophy and Chinese medicine shared important intellectual contexts in their early development. The origins of science in China seem to lie in an amalgam of ideas from both philosophers and technical specialists, including physicians.

Key to this amalgam were several concepts shared by both groups but deployed in very different ways. See Graham , Raphals and The authors of the first medical classic, the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine Huang Di neijing , also deployed these concepts, in particular in models of the human body as a yin-yang and Five Agent microcosm of the cosmos. Finally, physicians and philosophers created textual lineages and accounts of textual authority. By contrast, the evidence of recently excavated texts indicates that the Huang Di neijing derived from prior textual traditions that were subsequently lost Harper and that the extant version is a composite of several earlier texts Keegan , Unschuld , Unschuld and Tessenow , Yamada Theories of qi and yin and yang also are importantly pursued in early philosophical works.

Several Warring States texts contain references to the nature of qi , yin and yang , and their relation to health and longevity. The Zhuangzi also describes harmonizing or taking charge of the six qi. In all these texts a sage or numinous person achieves that status through both meta-physical and physical means. We find a different account of these concepts in technical works. No works attributed to him survive. By contrast, the Han shu describes him as a Recipe Master fang shi.

This is important because of the connection between fang shi and medicine. Fang shi practiced medicine and divination and claimed to possess secret texts and formulae. They gained great influence during the earlier part of the Han dynasty, though their influence waned by the later Han. The fang shi used yin-yang and Five Agents cosmology. They seem to have originated from the Shandong peninsula, and were particularly associated with the mantic arts, including the use of the sexagenary cycle of stems and branches, the Yi jing , and divination by stars, dreams, physiognomy, the winds, and by the use of pitch pipes Ngo Over the course of the last three centuries BCE, Chinese understandings of the physical world developed to reflect, and mirror, political consolidation Sivin , These new ideas of cosmic order—correspondence between microcosm the body and macrocosm the cosmos —appeared in new representations of the body, the state, and the cosmos that were based on systematic applications and correlations of the ideas of yin-yang and wuxing.

Theories of qi , yin-yang and wuxing also inform medical works. New systematic medical theories based on these ideas were systematized in a cosmological framework in the Huang Di neijing , a complex and multi-layered text, probably compiled in the first century BCE Keegan , Unschuld , Yamada It describes relations and analogies between the body including the emotions , the state and the cosmos in terms of yin-yang and wuxing. For example, the Huang Di neijing describes correspondence between the articulations of the body and the cosmos, specifically between heaven and earth and the upper and lower parts of the body:.

One way to do this was to maintain health by nurturing life yang sheng , an area of common ground for speculative thinkers and practitioners of traditional medical arts. The term yang sheng first appears in the Zhuangzi and then throughout a range of second BCE century medical literature. Pao Ding describes the process of mastering his skill.

His method is initially analytic; he begins by studying oxen as wholes, next as parts, and finally with faculties beyond ordinary vision. Watson , Another passage in the Outer Chapters refers to some of these exercises. We can get a better idea of what he might have been talking about from other sources. It describes Dao as literally pervading the body or the person of a sage:. The Zhuangzi describes spirit person of Guye, who concentrates his spirit shen , avoids the five grains, rides the clouds, and, through the concentration of his shen protects others against sicknesses and epidemics and makes the harvest ripen Zhuangzi 1, 28; cf.

Graham, a, This passage suggests that a sage can have a nurturing effect on the world by acting at a distance, possibly as an unintended by-product of self-cultivation practices. Other passages in the Zhuangzi extoll the abilities of specialized craftsmen who possess highly technical skills. These stories liken mastery of the Way to mastery of a craft. They also emphasize the technical skills of commoners. Commoners, rather than rulers, are presented as sage-like figures. These technical experts include arrow makers, bell-stand carvers, boatmen, butchers, cicada catchers, potters, sword makers, and wheelwrights Raphals It is curious that these passages never include physicians.

Texts on nurturing life include methods for absorbing and circulating qi in the body—for example, breathing and meditation exercises, diet, drugs and sexual techniques.

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Medical and mantic texts excavated from tombs make it clear that a wide range of longevity techniques had been developed before the Han dynasty Harper , This tomb is best known for its two versions of the Daode jing , but it is meaningful to locate those texts among other texts of a scientific provenance found in the tomb Harper and , Ma Jixing , Zhou Yimou , Zhou Yimou and Xiao Zuotai Six of the medical manuscripts are concerned with nurturing life in various ways.

They refer to the movements and postures of animals as whole-body metaphors for sexual techniques. These texts emphasize that sexual activity is a natural process, but one that must be regulated. Some are described in another excavated text from tomb no. Both exemplify a tradition of exercise for both therapy and health known as daoyin pulling and guiding.

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Lo One of the few extant texts it lists is the Huang Di neijing , along with the titles of lost medical works on nurturing life, health, and longevity. Recipe texts also have been excavated from Zhangjiashan Li Ling and In addition, the Mawangdui tombs also contained hexagram divination texts and charts and diagrams on cloud divination and physiognomy, including the oldest known representation of a comet Li Ling In summary, most of these texts can be described as part of a yang sheng culture, which offered and emphasized control over physiological processes of the body and mind that were understood as transformations of qi.

What is the relation of these detailed technical texts to philosophy? These technical arts form a continuum with philosophy because their transformations were understood as self-cultivation in the coterminous senses of moral excellence, health, and longevity rather than medical pathology , and physiological transformation through the manipulation of qi V.

They structured much of early Daoist philosophy and medical theory, and also had profound effects on early Chinese ethics and metaphysics V. These views informed Warring States accounts of dietary practices, exercise regimens, breath meditation, sexual cultivation techniques, and other technical traditions associated with fang shi.

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Accounts of these practices appear in passing in the texts of the received tradition. Many more come from texts excavated from tombs. The two were effectively different books that were not combined under one title until a thousand years after Ge Hong's time Sivin, For a partial translation of the waipian see Sailey According to his autobiography Baopuzi waipian , ch. After brief success, he abandoned a military career to go to the capital at Luoyang to search for books on immortals.

After difficulties during the political unrest in the south, Ge Hong entirely gave up political life and devoted himself to immortality practices. In he returned to the north and was named a marquis by the Eastern Jin court and took up an administrative post. On learning that cinnabar had been discovered in the south in present day North Vietnam , he secured a position as magistrate in the south in Guangxi, where he settled at Mt.

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But his accounts of these techniques clearly reflect an interest in self-cultivation according to broadly Confucian principles. For example, he considered moral self-cultivation a precondition for the search for immortality; self-cultivation included such Confucian virtues as benevolence ren , trustworthiness xin , loyalty zhong and filiality xiao.

As an alchemist, Ge Hong experimented with drugs and minerals. Although Robinet insists that Ge Hong was only interested in pharmacology as an adjunct to alchemy, the Baopuzi also includes important material on medicine and pharmacology. In summary, Ge Hong's writings combine interests in Confucian ethics, Daoist self-cultivation and alchemical techniques, and the details of medicine and pharmacology.

He held several court positions under the Liu Song and Qi dynasties. He set himself to collect and edit the origial manuscripts connected with these revelations. When the Liang dynasty came to power in , he joined the court of Emperor Wu r.

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Tao was educated in Daoist traditions associated with the Daode jing, Zhuangzi, and the works of Ge Hong; and was initiated in the Linbao school at the age of thirty. He was also actively engaged in mostly unsuccessful attempts to produce alchemical elixirs Strickman , Tao's father and grandfather were experts in medicinal drugs, and he shared their interests in materia medica and medicine.

Tao doubled the account of drugs in the original and also rearranged the material — , Predagio , —71; Robinet ; Strickman Tao Hongjing is thus another clear case of overlapping interests between philosophy and medicine. His interests clearly included Daoist philosophy and practice, medicine, pharmacology and alchemy. Sun is said to have taken up medicine to strengthen his own health after childhood illnesses.

He also treated relatives and neighbors, and practiced medicine near the Tang capital of Chang'an. He also traveled widely to learn new prescription recipes. After completing his first book, he lived in seclusion on Mt. Wubai Wubai shan, later known, after him, as Yao wang Shan , where he followed Daoist principles.

He refused several official positions at the Sui and Tang courts, preferring to treat ordinary people in the countryside. His biography in both of the two Standard Histories of the Tang Dynasty , trans. Sivin , 81— emphasizes his interests in philosophy, noting his particular study of the Yi jing , Daode jing , works concerned with yin-yang theory, and shu shu numerical calculations.

His work reflected these interests in yin-yang and wuxing theory and macrocosm-microcosm correspondences between the body and cosmos. He is also the first Chinese physician to write extensively on medical ethics. Sun Simiao is the author of two major medical works. It contained herbal remedies and reviewed the history of medicine since the Han Dynasty, starting with the Huang Di neijing.

The introduction to the Qianjin fang ch. According to Sun, a great physician should not pay attention to status, wealth or age; he should not care whether a person is attractive, a friend or enemy, or whether the person is Han Chinese or educated. He should meet everyone on equal grounds and should always act as if he were thinking of a close relative ch. For translation see Unschuld , 29— The Qian jin fang also includes chapters on diet ch.

His interests also included the treatment of women ch. May chapters are concerned with herbal recipes. Sun Simiao emphasized that the effectiveness of herbal recipes depended on correct identification and preparation, including gathering herbs at the right time and drying them correctly.

This part is not philosophically necessary but it provides an incentive for paying attention to the rest. Then follows the core of the argument, which makes use of some simple probability theory, and a section providing support for a weak indifference principle that the argument employs. Lastly, we discuss some interpretations of the disjunction, mentioned in the abstract, that forms the conclusion of the simulation argument. A common assumption in the philosophy of mind is that of substrate-independence. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates.

Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks inside a cranium: silicon-based processors inside a computer could in principle do the trick as well. Arguments for this thesis have been given in the literature, and although it is not entirely uncontroversial, we shall here take it as a given. The argument we shall present does not, however, depend on any very strong version of functionalism or computationalism.

Moreover, we need not assume that in order to create a mind on a computer it would be sufficient to program it in such a way that it behaves like a human in all situations, including passing the Turing test etc. We need only the weaker assumption that it would suffice for the generation of subjective experiences that the computational processes of a human brain are structurally replicated in suitably fine-grained detail, such as on the level of individual synapses.

This attenuated version of substrate-independence is quite widely accepted. Neurotransmitters, nerve growth factors, and other chemicals that are smaller than a synapse clearly play a role in human cognition and learning. The substrate-independence thesis is not that the effects of these chemicals are small or irrelevant, but rather that they affect subjective experience only via their direct or indirect influence on computational activities. For example, if there can be no difference in subjective experience without there also being a difference in synaptic discharges, then the requisite detail of simulation is at the synaptic level or higher.

At our current stage of technological development, we have neither sufficiently powerful hardware nor the requisite software to create conscious minds in computers. But persuasive arguments have been given to the effect that if technological progress continues unabated then these shortcomings will eventually be overcome. Some authors argue that this stage may be only a few decades away. Such a mature stage of technological development will make it possible to convert planets and other astronomical resources into enormously powerful computers. It is currently hard to be confident in any upper bound on the computing power that may be available to posthuman civilizations.

We can with much greater confidence establish lower bounds on posthuman computation, by assuming only mechanisms that are already understood. For example, Eric Drexler has outlined a design for a system the size of a sugar cube excluding cooling and power supply that would perform 10 21 instructions per second. The amount of computing power needed to emulate a human mind can likewise be roughly estimated.

However, it is likely that the human central nervous system has a high degree of redundancy on the mircoscale to compensate for the unreliability and noisiness of its neuronal components. One would therefore expect a substantial efficiency gain when using more reliable and versatile non-biological processors. Memory seems to be a no more stringent constraint than processing power.

We can therefore use the processing power required to simulate the central nervous system as an estimate of the total computational cost of simulating a human mind. Simulating the entire universe down to the quantum level is obviously infeasible, unless radically new physics is discovered. The microscopic structure of the inside of the Earth can be safely omitted.


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Distant astronomical objects can have highly compressed representations: verisimilitude need extend to the narrow band of properties that we can observe from our planet or solar system spacecraft. On the surface of Earth, macroscopic objects in inhabited areas may need to be continuously simulated, but microscopic phenomena could likely be filled in ad hoc. What you see through an electron microscope needs to look unsuspicious, but you usually have no way of confirming its coherence with unobserved parts of the microscopic world.

Exceptions arise when we deliberately design systems to harness unobserved microscopic phenomena that operate in accordance with known principles to get results that we are able to independently verify. The paradigmatic case of this is a computer. The simulation may therefore need to include a continuous representation of computers down to the level of individual logic elements.

This presents no problem, since our current computing power is negligible by posthuman standards. Moreover, a posthuman simulator would have enough computing power to keep track of the detailed belief-states in all human brains at all times. Therefore, when it saw that a human was about to make an observation of the microscopic world, it could fill in sufficient detail in the simulation in the appropriate domain on an as-needed basis. Should any error occur, the director could easily edit the states of any brains that have become aware of an anomaly before it spoils the simulation.

Alternatively, the director could skip back a few seconds and rerun the simulation in a way that avoids the problem. It thus seems plausible that the main computational cost in creating simulations that are indistinguishable from physical reality for human minds in the simulation resides in simulating organic brains down to the neuronal or sub-neuronal level.

As we gain more experience with virtual reality, we will get a better grasp of the computational requirements for making such worlds appear realistic to their visitors. But in any case, even if our estimate is off by several orders of magnitude, this does not matter much for our argument. We noted that a rough approximation of the computational power of a planetary-mass computer is 10 42 operations per second, and that assumes only already known nanotechnological designs, which are probably far from optimal.

A single such a computer could simulate the entire mental history of humankind call this an ancestor-simulation by using less than one millionth of its processing power for one second. A posthuman civilization may eventually build an astronomical number of such computers. We can conclude that the computing power available to a posthuman civilization is sufficient to run a huge number of ancestor-simulations even it allocates only a minute fraction of its resources to that purpose.

We can draw this conclusion even while leaving a substantial margin of error in all our estimates. The basic idea of this paper can be expressed roughly as follows: If there were a substantial chance that our civilization will ever get to the posthuman stage and run many ancestor-simulations, then how come you are not living in such a simulation? We shall develop this idea into a rigorous argument.

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Let us introduce the following notation:. The actual fraction of all observers with human-type experiences that live in simulations is then. This step is sanctioned by a very weak indifference principle. Let us distinguish two cases. The first case, which is the easiest, is where all the minds in question are like your own in the sense that they are exactly qualitatively identical to yours: they have exactly the same information and the same experiences that you have.

I maintain that even in the latter case, where the minds are qualitatively different, the simulation argument still works, provided that you have no information that bears on the question of which of the various minds are simulated and which are implemented biologically. A detailed defense of a stronger principle, which implies the above stance for both cases as trivial special instances, has been given in the literature. Suppose, further, that there are no manifestations of S short of what would turn up in a gene assay and that there are no known correlations between having S and any observable characteristic.

They are different simply because all humans have different experiences from one another, not because of any known link between S and what kind of experiences one has. The same reasoning holds if S is not the property of having a certain genetic sequence but instead the property of being in a simulation, assuming only that we have no information that enables us to predict any differences between the experiences of simulated minds and those of the original biological minds.

It should be stressed that the bland indifference principle expressed by prescribes indifference only between hypotheses about which observer you are, when you have no information about which of these observers you are. It does not in general prescribe indifference between hypotheses when you lack specific information about which of the hypotheses is true. Readers familiar with the Doomsday argument [12] may worry that the bland principle of indifference invoked here is the same assumption that is responsible for getting the Doomsday argument off the ground, and that the counterintuitiveness of some of the implications of the latter incriminates or casts doubt on the validity of the former.

This is not so. The Doomsday argument rests on a much stronger and more controversial premiss, namely that one should reason as if one were a random sample from the set of all people who will ever have lived past, present, and future even though we know that we are living in the early twenty-first century rather than at some point in the distant past or the future. The bland indifference principle, by contrast, applies only to cases where we have no information about which group of people we belong to.

If they bet on not being in a simulation, then almost everyone will lose. It seems better that the bland indifference principle be heeded. As one approaches the limiting case in which everybody is in a simulation from which one can deductively infer that one is in a simulation oneself , it is plausible to require that the credence one assigns to being in a simulation gradually approach the limiting case of complete certainty in a matching manner. The possibility represented by proposition 1 is fairly straightforward. If 1 is true, then humankind will almost certainly fail to reach a posthuman level; for virtually no species at our level of development become posthuman, and it is hard to see any justification for thinking that our own species will be especially privileged or protected from future disasters.

Conditional on 1 , therefore, we must give a high credence to DOOM , the hypothesis that humankind will go extinct before reaching a posthuman level:. One can imagine hypothetical situations were we have such evidence as would trump knowledge of. For example, if we discovered that we were about to be hit by a giant meteor, this might suggest that we had been exceptionally unlucky.