fāngshì (方士)

literally, fāng (方) means “method, direction, or recipe,” and shì (士) is a scholar. The fāngshì (方士) were ‘scholars of direction or method.’ They were the ‘scientists’ of ancient China, who focused their attention on discerning patterns and regularities (shù (數)) in the movement and dynamics of the world of phenomena. The ‘laws of nature’ they used to discriminate directional movements were the various shù (數) of symbolic images (xiàng (象)). The most important groups of xiàng (象) in classical Chinese medicine were yīn-yáng (陽), the Five Phases (wǔxíng (五行)), and the Six Gatherings (liùhé (六合)). Each xiàng (象) represents a directional movement, and each shù (數) provides a different focus of inquiry concerning the movement and dynamics of human phenomena.

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