This study deals with honzōgaku in early modern Japan (1600–1868), a subject Federico Marcon defines “as a field of study of Chinese origins ancillary to medicine” “devoted to the pharmacological properties of minerals, plants, and animals” (x), which only in the Meiji period (1868–1912) merged into the new academics of botany, zoology, and biology. By instancing its development, he intends to show that intellectual, economic, political, and cultural processes played a critical role in the secularization of nature and the objectification of natural species that populated Japan (5). Crucial in these processes were the commodification of plants and animals by the increasing commercialization of agricultural production, and their transformation into an intellectual commodity, which led to the objectification of nature. As specimens, he explains, plants and animals constituted the myriads of things that populated the world (banbutsu). Yet...
The Knowledge of Nature and the Nature of Knowledge in Early Modern Japan
Regina Huebner did her doctorate in 2015 at the University of Cambridge and is presently revising her doctoral thesis, titled “State Medicine and the State of Medicine in Tokugawa Japan: Kōkei saikyūhō (1791), an Emergency Handbook Initiated by the Bakufu,” for publication. Her research focuses on the cultural and medical history of Japan, transmission of knowledge, history of food, materia medica and famine in Japan, and environmental history.
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Regina Huebner; The Knowledge of Nature and the Nature of Knowledge in Early Modern Japan. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 September 2018; 12 (3): 353–357. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-4207384
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