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Traditional alternatives as complementary sciences: the case of Indo-Tibetan medicine
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.)
Short Title: J Altern Complement MedTraditional alternatives as complementary sciences
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 1998
Pages: 311 - 319
Sources ID: 94371
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
Traditional medical systems, like those preserved in Asia, pose a challenge because they involve theories and practices that strike many conventionally trained physicians and researchers as incomprehensible, even nonsensical. Should modern medicine continue to dismiss these systems as unscientific, therefore worthy of debunking rather than serious study; view them as sources of alternatives, possibly effective but hidden in a matrix of prescientific custom and belief; or do they represent something like a complementary science of medicine? We make the latter argument using the example of Indo-Tibetan medicine. Indo-Tibetan medicine is based on analytic models and methods that are rationally defined, internally coherent, and make testable predictions, therefore meeting current definitions of "science." The possibility of multiple, complementary sciences is a consequence of certain findings in physics that have led to a view of science as a set of tools-instruments of social activity that depend on learned agreement in aims and methods-rather than as a monolith of absolute objective truth. Implications of this pluralistic view of science for medical research and practice are discussed.