Being Human in a Buddhist World : An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet
Critically exploring scientific thought and its relation to religion in traditional Tibetan medicine, Being Human expands our sense of Tibetan cultural history, unpacking the intersection of early modern sensibilities and religious ideals during the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama. Studying the adaptation of Buddhist concepts and values to medical concerns, the book also advances an appreciation of Buddhism's role in the development of Asian and global civilization.
Through its unique focus and sophisticated reading of source materials, Being Human captures the religious character of medicine in Tibet during a period when it facilitated a singular involvement in issues associated with modernity and empirical science, all without discernible influence from the European Enlightenment. The book opens with the bold achievements of medical illustration, commentary, and institution building, then looks back to the work of earlier thinkers, tracing a subtle dialectic between scriptural and empirical authority on questions of history and the nature of human anatomy. It follows key differences between medicine and Buddhism in attitudes toward gender and sex, and the shaping of medical ethics to serve both the physician and the patient's well-being. Being Human ultimately finds that Tibetan medical scholars absorbed ethical and epistemological categories from Buddhism yet shied away from ideal system and absolutes, embracing instead the imperfectability of the human condition.