Lecture Series

19 December 2021


Art, Technology and Philosophy Symposium (I)
Departing From the Microcosmos

The inaugural session of the "Art, Technology and Philosophy Symposium Series: Departing from the Microcosmos" hosted by the Media Lab of Guangdong Times Museum has come to a successful conclusion on December 18, 2021. The symposium invited anthropologists, philosophers, historians of science, and artists as guests, featuring Judith Farquhar from the University of Chicago, Volker Scheid from Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and University of Westminster, Keekok Lee from the University of Manchester, Lili Lai from Peking University, and artists Xia Lin & Sheryl Cheung form collective lololol. Dr. Yuk Hui serves as the host and discussant of the symposium during which all guests shared and exchanged their views on the subject with the audience.

Themed around Chinese Medicine, the symposium explored the possibility and understanding of the cosmo-epistemic of all things and discussed the relationship between the concept of Chinese Medicine and Western biotechnology. It responded to the colonial history of knowledge systems as a carrier of cultural hegemony over non-Western countries from the perspectives of technology, philosophy, history, geography, and politics. At the same time, the guests also tried to answer the following questions: Is there a possibility for equal dialogue between Chinese Medicine and modern science within the contemporary discourse system? In what form will Chinese Medicine continue to exist? How do nowadays artists, philosophers, and Chinese Medicine practitioners interpret and view Chinese Medicine? How do China and Chinese Medicine respond to the challenges they face? In the final Q&A session, the audiences’ interaction with scholars and artists extended the topic to the anxiety of modernity in China, the impact of emerging technologies on Chinese Medicine, and thoughts about the future medical outlook.

[ 00:09:12 ]
Dr. Yuk Hui explained the reason for choosing “Departing from the Microcosmos” as the title and “Chinese Medicine” as the theme and introduced the concept of Cosmotechnics and its relation with Chinese Medicine.

[ 00:16:35 ]
Starting from "how to articulate the epistemology of Chinese medicine", Dr. Yuk Hui expounded his views on the lectures given by Judith Farquhar, Keekok Lee, Volker Scheid, and Lili Lai. He summarized that Judith Farquhar’s lecture implied radical empiricism, Keekok Lee's lecture mentioned ecosystems as a product of cybernetics, while Volker Scheid's lecture critiqued taking Chinese Medicine as a product of holism.

[ 00:20:07 ]
Before starting the discussion, we should first distinguish some concepts: Is the ultimate goal of medicine to cure the patient?

[ 00:22:54 ]
Various types of medicine have their differences, but at the same time, bio-medicine and Chinese Medicine also share commonalities. What unifies and diversifies the two and what can we learn from it?

[ 00:28:00 ]
How to define and explain "pre-modern", "modern", "post-modern"? Modernity took over a system of knowledge and regarded it as the "only correct" form of science, which became an "act of colonization" for non-Western countries.

[ 00:32:30 ]
How to describe non-modern knowledge from an epistemological perspective? How to explain the treatment method of Chinese Medicine?

[ 00:35:00 ]
Anything in Chinese Medicine practice is contested itself, and so does Western medicine. To begin a dialogue based on binary oppositions of Chinese and Western medicine will lead us to an unfruitful path, instead, we shall see the diversity and pluralism of both medicines. TCM has always been trying to work with the “hegemon” in a sense, so Chinese medicine has never been "traditional."

[ 00:39:40 ]
As a medical system that features a variety of treatment practices and master practitioners, how to articulate Chinese Medicine to bio-medical scientists and scholars?

[ 00:42:19 ]
It is difficult to achieve an equal dialogue, and such attempts often end up without productive outcomes. We should think about how to ensure the survival and continuation of Chinese Medicine. At present, most of the analysis about Chinese Medicine goes via the western philosophical system, but there is a rich resource within Chinese philosophy itself, so we should think and explain Chinese Medicine from the perspective of China's philosophy.

[ 00:44:35 ]
Many scholars have tried to understand and explain Chinese Medicine from a philosophical point of view, but the dissemination of knowledge will inevitably encounter translation problems. It is difficult for people to think in non-modernity terms.

[ 00:53:00 ]
Sheryl Cheung explained from an artist’s perspective about the Chinese oriented mind and body practices in helping Chinese medicine ontology figure out a way out beyond the techno-scientific rationale that its practitioners often bounded into.

[ 00:57:00 ]
Xia Lin wants to develop a new way of communication through her works, during which both the artist and participants can feel. Faced with the reality that technological objects change the "hou," the “pace” of people’s lives, so when people are not using these technological objects, they will have cognitive changes that lead to their reconfiguration to the external environment.

Sheryl Cheung believes that artists focus on the mind and body practices in terms of releasing creativity and opening our spaces beyond the infrastructure of how we orient ourselves in the world today, to tap the potential beyond the human body, and pay attention to the combination of the Chinese Medicine and western medicine to surpass the viewpoints of either. When our body's "hou"-inner climate changes, or when external environmental changes are reflected in our body, how can Chinese Medicine creatively heal us.

[ 01:06:00 ]
It is important for scholars working in Chinese medicine to have this dimension of artists and philosophers. There may not be much hope for Chinese medicine as medicine in its constant struggle with a more hegemonic modern medicine, but it can survive as a creative resource.

[ 01:15:07 ]
In what form should Chinese medicine survive? Chinese medicine is a "cosmos-technical-political" practice, and its survival is not just a question of effectiveness, but a political theory, which contains more geopolitics than scientificity and efficacy.

[ 01:17:50 ]
Many countries have chosen to accept colonialism and took the Western model as definitive knowledge. Instead of pursuing this colonial path, China tries to develop a new model that deliberately incorporates the Western system with its realities, suits well with its traditions while absorbing useful parts, and even resurrects indigenous forms of Chinese knowledge. It reflects China's attempts to transcend colonialism, decolonization, and break geo-coloniality. China, as the second-largest economy in the world, has proved the success of its model and is attracting attention. "Contrast between coloniality and decolonization" has become an unavoidable issue in geopolitics.

[ 01:24:05 ]
During the healing process, the interaction between the practitioner and the patient is very important. How the practitioner sees the patient, the therapeutic relationship between the two, reflect the so-called mind-body problem, which is ultimately a philosophical theory, just as bio-medicine is embedded in modern Western philosophy, which points to mind-body dualism, which is not the case in Chinese medicine. These philosophies determine how we treat our patients.

[ 01:30:17 ]
The relationship between Chinese Medicine and the current progress of science and technology, that is, how the development of technology affects medical thinking.

Q&A Session

[ 01:31:55 ]
What do the panelist think of the emergence of the integrative practices of Chinese medicine and bio-medicine, and what are the epistemological implications of such practices?

[ 01:39:57 ]
China has always said that "the preposition of fall-behind will suffer beating", and modernity and modern knowledge existed as a means of saving the nation from extinction, including the explosion of China's first atomic bomb, which has also reinstated the international status of the New China. So, when a non-European civilization is faced with modern history unfolding from Europe, it is necessary to implement the modernization of Europeanization to ensure its existence. So, is it possible that only when China has a civilizational centripetal force, will Chinese medicine and modern medicine be on an equal footing?

[ 01:45:55 ]
Beyond the translation of words, it is the difference in sensitivity and inherent relation of one with the world that is cosmological that creates a difficulty in reducing colonization on medicinal techniques. I think it is a discussion of shared memory and collective consciousness, cross cultures will begin to merge two approaches, two scientific positive knowledge where cultures heavily shape and define truth. How such discussions will be started on a more personal level, what sort of experiences, thoughts, or sensations can be shared to create an understanding of the others?

[ 01:51:55 ]
Future medicine will integrate philosophy, Chinese medicine, and modern medicine. How do we understand the future medical outlook?

[ 01:52:45 ]
How to view the impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics in the practice and research of Chinese medicine, and how do these influence the cosmotechnics of Chinese medicine?

About Lecture Series

The Lecture Series is an annual event revolved around a theme curated and presented by Media Lab, inviting scholars and artists from different fields to engage in a dialogue between art, technology, and philosophy to explore critical issues in media studies.