Hi Greg. Thanks for jumping in here, and for sharing your thoughts. I wouldn’t presume to tell you how to use the term “metamodernism” given that you’ve been writing on this topic for quite some time, but my initial impression is that the term is stretched to the point of losing its meaning or utility if it is used to describe ideas that were circulating in the modern period.

Certainly among trained historians (such as myself) you’ll get a lot of pushback if you use epistemes as ahistorical or “chronologically independent” terms. We use “modern” as a designation for a whole assemblage of factors — economic, technological, social, intellectual, cultural, etc. — that come on line at a specific point in history. In the absence of that whole assemblage, say in early China for example, we might talk about certain approaches as rational or empirical, but definitely not modern.

I do agree that Chinese medicine holds together various conflicting paradigms or epistemes, I just would use a different term to talk about that in the premodern period. I’ve been partial to “polyperspectival,” as I mention in the post. (Incidentally, I think by far the biggest tension in premodern Chinese medicine, which you didn’t mention, is between demonic or spirit-medicine and the natural forces like qi/yin-yang etc.)

I would say that modern perspectives came on line only when Chinese medicine went through a process of reinterpretation/recreation in the late 19th to 20th centuries, at which time it was largely reinterpreted along biomedical lines. Then, there have clearly been postmodern approaches to Chinese medicine developed by contemporary academic scholars and historians. And finally, there’s a kind of romantic neo-traditionalist interpretation of Chinese medicine among certain practitioners, often wrapped up with Western New Age notions of energies, which has been running alongside modern and postmodern perspectives since the 19th century.

Currently, all of those perspectives are available, but they tend to circulate in discrete social groups. To me what would be metamodern would be bringing together those paradigms simultaneously within the same social group or within a single practitioner’s practice. *Realizing that all of these views are partial in a postmodern way, but earnestly adopting one or several of them anyway.*

Anyway, those are my thoughts about your comment for the moment. I will be doing some more thinking and writing on the subject of metamodernism and Asian medicine in the near future, though, so stay tuned. And thanks so much for the conversation!

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Seeking larger perspectives that balance being an academic with being human. By scholar of Asian medicine and Buddhism, Pierce Salguero (piercesalguero.com).

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