Four Basic Concepts of Medicine in Kant and the Compound Yijing

Journal of Wuxi Zhouyi 21 (June):31-40 (2018)
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This paper begins the last instalment of a six-part project correlating the key aspects of Kant’s architectonic conception of philosophy with a special version of the Chinese Book of Changes that I call the “Compound Yijing”, which arranges the 64 hexagrams (gua) into both fourfold and threefold sets. I begin by briefly summarizing the foregoing articles: although Kant and the Yijing employ different types of architectonic reasoning, the two systems can both be described in terms of three “levels” of elements. Starting at an unnumbered level devoid of any element (the tao or thing in itself), the system proceeds by elaborating a key fourfold distinction (or “quaternity”) on the first level, a twelvefold distinction on the second level, and twelve quaternities (grouped in four quadrants, each with a set of three quaternities) on the third level. Each set of three quaternities (i.e., each quadrant) on the third level corresponds to one of the four “faculties” of the university, as elaborated in Kant’s book, The Conflict of the Faculties. Previous papers have examined the correlations between three key quaternities that Kant defends in relation to each of three faculties (philosophy, theology, and law) and the 12 gua that correspond to that faculty in the Compound Yijing. The final step is to explore the fourth quaternity on the third level, the 12 gua corresponding to the medical faculty. The “idea of reason” in Kant’s metaphysics that guides this wing of the comparative analysis is freedom, and the ultimate purpose of this faculty of the university is to train doctors to care for people’s physical well-being, as free agents imbedded in nature. But this paper will focus only on the four gua that correspond to four basic concepts in Kant’s theory of medicine. The two quaternities in the “yin-yang” (medical) quadrant of the Compound Yijing that will be skipped here are as follows. First, Kant’s account of the idea of freedom itself, which gives rise to the area of traditional metaphysics known as rational cosmology, comes in the first Critique’s Dialectic, in the section on the Antinomy of Reason (CPR A405-567/B432- 595). There he examines four irresolvable issues: whether the world has a beginning in time; whether composite substances consist of simple parts; whether a causality of freedom operates in the natural world; and whether an absolutely necessary being exists. Later I will argue that these correspond to the quaternity consisting of gua 15, 22, 36, and 52.

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Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University


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