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Meet Paul U. Unschuld, a German expert in TCM

One day in 1971, the doorbell rang at Paul U. Unschuld's apartment in Munich. He opened the door to find a young man, who laconically said in English: "Hi, I am James Quinn, C.I.A. Tell me about the military usage of acupuncture."

柏林——1971年的一天,文树德(Paul U. Unschuld)位于慕尼黑的公寓的门铃响了。他打开门,看到了一名年轻男子。对方用简洁的英语说:"嗨,我是詹姆斯•奎因(James Quinn),CIA(美国中央情报局)。和我说说针灸的军事用途吧。"

So began the German academic's rise from relative obscurity to his position as the West's leading authority on ancient Chinese healing practices. One of the first Western scholars to tackle Chinese medicine in a systematic and serious way, Dr. Unschuld has seen his subject more as a way to interpret Chinese civilization than as a New Age answer to modern medicine.


Respected and sometimes resented for his scrupulousness in translating Chinese medical texts, Dr. Unschuld, a tall man of regal bearing, harks back to an era of scholarship, when people who engaged with China were called Sinologists — those who studied broad swaths of the Chinese world that reflected their wide-ranging interests.


For Dr. Unschuld, that has included amassing a collection of statues of medical deities that is planned to be a centerpiece of Berlin's Humboldt Forum, a new museum under construction that will showcase non-European cultures.

对文树德来说,这种研究包括收集和医学有关的神像。按照计划,这些雕像将是柏林的新博物馆洪堡论坛(Humboldt Forum)的核心展品。正在修建中的该博物馆将展示欧洲以外的文化。

Dr. Unschuld has also collected 1,100 antique manuscripts that could give clues to how medicine was practiced at China's grass-roots level. The manuscripts contain more than 40,000 prescriptions that are being examined for promising ingredients, with some of the remedies for epilepsy already being studied by a Chinese-German start-up.


In his spare time, Dr. Unschuld has led German government delegations to China, and has written books on how medicine helps to explain China's rise to global prominence.


"If there are two words I'd associate with Unschuld, it's rigor and exactitude," said Phil Garrison, a teacher at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego and at the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Seneca Falls, N.Y. "But these qualities are a double-edged sword."

"如果用两个词形容文树德,那就是严谨和精确,"在太平洋东方医学院圣迭戈分校(Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego)和纽约州塞尼卡福尔斯的芬格湖群针灸与东方医学院(Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine)任教的菲尔•加里森(Phil Garrison)说。"但这些品质是一把双刃剑。"

That is because Dr. Unschuld, who is as blunt as he is outspoken, stands at the center of a long and contentious debate in the West over Chinese medicine. For many, it is the ur-alternative to what they see as the industrialized and chemicalized medicine that dominates in the West. For others, it is little more than charlatanism, with its successes attributed to the placebo effectand the odd folk remedy.


Dr. Unschuld is a challenge to both ways of thinking. He has just finished a 28-year English translation of the three principal parts of the foundational work of Chinese medicine: the Huangdi Neijing, or Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic, published by the University of California Press. But unlike many of the textbooks used in Chinese medicine schools in the West, Dr. Unschuld's works are monuments to the art of serious translation; he avoids New Age jargon like "energy" or familiar Western medical terms like "pathogens," seeing both as unfair to the ancient writers and their worldviews.

文树德对这两种思维方式均发起了挑战。他刚完成了对中医基础著作《黄帝内经》三个主要部分历时28年的英语翻译工作。译作已由加州大出版社(University of California Press)出版。但不同于西方中医学院使用的很多教科书,文树德的著作是严肃翻译艺术的典范。他会避免像"energy"(能量)这种新世纪术语或"pathogen"(病原体)这类熟悉的西医术语,认为这两类词对古代的作者及其世界观不公平。

But this reflects a deep respect for the ancient authors the detractors of Chinese medicine sometimes lack. Dr. Unschuld hunts down obscure terms and devises consistent terminologies that are sometimes not easy to read, but are faithful to the original text. Almost universally, his translations are regarded as trailblazing — making available, for the first time in a Western language, the complete foundational works of Chinese medicine from up to 2,000 years ago.


"There exist any number of critical editions of the works of Hippocrates or Galen" from ancient Greece, said Don Harper, a professor at the University of Chicago, who studies ancient Chinese religious and medical texts. "Paul is the first to provide anything comparable to the Chinese corpus."

源自古希腊的"希波克拉底(Hippocrates)或者盖伦(Galen)的著作有很多评述版,"芝加哥大学(University of Chicago)研究中国古代宗教和医学典籍的教授唐•哈珀(Don Harper)说。"而保罗在中文典籍领域拿出了可以与之比拟的东西,他是第一个做到这点的人。"

But for many Western practitioners of Chinese medicine, Dr. Unschuld is an uncompromising guide to the Chinese classics. His books sell well, but many Westerners prefer more accessible translations that use more familiar terms.


"People were very threatened by what he said," said Z'ev Rosenberg, an author, and a practitioner and teacher of Chinese medicine. "He said you need access to the sources and the terminology."

"他的话吓到了很多人,"既是作家,又是中医师和中医老师的泽夫•罗森贝格(Z'ev Rosenberg)说。"他说你需要接触这些原始资料和术语。"

And then there is the issue of efficacy. With his extremely dry humor, Dr. Unschuld likens Chinese medicine to the herbal formulas of the medieval Christian mystic Hildegard von Bingen. If people want to try it, they should be free to do so, he said, but not at taxpayer expense. As for himself, Dr. Unschuld says he has never tried Chinese medicine.

再有就是功效问题。文树德博士以一种极冷的冷幽默,把中医药比作由希尔德加德•冯•宾根(Hildegard von Bingen),也就是中世纪那位基督教术士配的草药药方。他说,如果人们想尝试一下,尽可以去尝试,但不能花纳税人的钱。至于他本人,文树德博士说他从未尝试过中医。

At his office in Berlin's famous Charité hospital — where many pioneers of modern medicine got their start — Dr. Unschuld told a story about how, several years ago, he suffered a bilateral lung embolism. Pointing out the window to the hospital's main tower, he said he was saved by modern medicine.


"Excuse me, but acupuncture and herbs can't help you there," he said, with a laugh. "But there are some health problems where these therapies may be beneficial, and, hence, I'm not against it when someone uses it."


At times, Dr. Unschuld almost seems perplexed that his field of study actually became an alternative source of medical treatment. He said Chinese medicine's popularity in the West can trace its roots to the Cold War, to 1971 to be exact. That is when James Reston, a columnist for The New York Times, reported about how he was treated in China for a burst appendix, in part with acupuncture and mugwort.

有时候,看到自己研究的这个领域真的成为了替代疗法的一个源头,他似乎有点困惑。他说中医在西方的流行可以追根溯源至冷战时期,确切地说是1971年。那一年,《纽约时报》的专栏作者詹姆斯•赖斯顿(James Reston)在一篇文章中讲述了他在中国因突发阑尾炎而就医的经历,治疗过程中用到了针灸和艾草。

Dr. Unschuld's interest in medicine was not entirely unique in his family. His great-grandfather had treated the king of Belgium and other European nobility. Dr. Unschuld says he grew up in a household filled with vases and other chinoiserie donated by grateful patients. His father had been a pharmacist who collected pharmaceutical artifacts and pharmacopoeias of past centuries.


Initially, Dr. Unschuld earned a degree in pharmacy in Munich along with his wife, Ulrike. But he had also been fascinated with foreign languages and had completed a parallel track in Chinese studies. In 1969, before what he assumed would be a career in the pharmaceutical industry, the couple went to Taiwan for a year to improve their Chinese language skills.


Instead, Dr. Unschuld spent the year interviewing medical practitioners. The resulting Ph.D. thesis started his career as an expert on Chinese medicine, and for 20 years he headed theInstitute for the History of Medicine at Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University.

但文树德博士却把那一年花在采访医师上。于是就有了那篇让他走上成为中医研究专家之路的博士论文。此外,他在慕尼黑大学(Ludwig Maximilian University)的医史研究所(Institute for the History of Medicine)当了20年所长。

For Dr. Unschuld, Chinese medicine is far more interesting as an allegory for China's mental state. His most famous book is a history of Chinese medical ideas, in which he sees classic figures, such as the Yellow Emperor, as a reflection of the Chinese people's deep-seated pragmatism. At a time when demons and ghosts were blamed for illness, these Chinese works from 2,000 years ago ascribed it to behavior or disease that could be corrected or cured.


"It is a metaphor for enlightenment," he says.


Especially striking, Dr. Unschuld says, is that the Chinese approach puts responsibility on the individual, as reflected in the statement "wo ming zai wo, bu zai tian" — "my fate lies with me, not with heaven." This mentality was reflected on a national level in the 19th and 20th centuries, when China was being attacked by outsiders. The Chinese largely blamed themselves and sought concrete answers by studying foreign ideas, industrializing and building a modern economy.


In China, Dr. Unschuld said, "Medicine and politics are similar: You don't blame others, you blame yourself." He added, "You ask: 'What did I do wrong? What made me vulnerable? What can I do against it?' This is why China has risen."


Source: New York Times


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