Korean J Med Hist.  2005 Dec;14(2):79-100.

The medical theory of Lee Je-ma and its character

  • 1Handok Medico-pharma Museum, Korea.


Lee Je-ma (1837-1900) was a prominent scholar as well as an Korean physician. He classified every people into four distinctive types: greater yang[tai yang] person, lesser yin[shao yin] person, greater yin[tai yin] person, lesser yin[shao yin] person. This theory would dictate proper treatment for each type in accordance with individual differences of physical and temperament features. Using these four types he created The Medical Science of Four Types. This article is intended to look into the connection between Lee Je-Ma's 'The Medical Science of Four Types' and 'The Modern' with organizing his ideas about the human body and the human being. Through The Modern, the theory of human being underwent a complete change. Human being in The Premodern, which was determined by sex, age and social status has been changed to the individual human being, which is featured by equality. Lee Je-Ma's medical theory of The Medical Science of Four Types would be analyzed as follow. His concept of human body is oriented toward observable objectivity. But on the other hand it still remains transcendent status of medical science, which is subordinated by philosophy. According to Lee Je-Ma's theory of human being, human is an equal individual in a modern way of thinking, not as a part of hierarchical group. But on the other hand, it still remains incomplete from getting rid of morality aspect that includes virtue and vice in the concept of human body. The common factors in Lee Je-Ma's ideas about the human body and the human being is 'Dualism of mind and body' that means all kinds of status and results depends on each individual.As is stated above, Lee Je-Ma's medical theory has many aspects of The Modern and it proves that Korean traditional medicine could be modernized by itself.


Lee Je-ma; The Medical Science of Four Types; The Modern; The Premodern; modernistic human being; Dualism of mind and body; concept of human body; theory of human being
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