Zhang Zongjing (150-219), known as the Chinese Hippocrates, was one of the most eminent physicians in China during the Han Dynasty. In the Shanghailun, a famous treatise on cold pathogenic diseases, Zhang not only described past medicinal discoveries but provided regulations for contemporary medical practice. The Shanghailun is thus an important text for scholars of the history of traditional Chinese medicine. The treatise was privately transmitted with no public acknowledgment until the Jin Dynasty (265-420), when it was re-edited and rearranged. The treatise received more attention and became increasingly popular during the Song Dynasty, when a Confucian basis for medical practice was endorsed by the government. Zhang has since been regarded as a sage of Chinese medicine. The Shanghailun also became part of the compulsory curriculum at China’s Imperial Medical Academy. Zhang has a special status in the history of Chinese medicine due to his efforts to create an orthodox system of medical practice in line with the Confucian (Ru) tradition.
In this paper, Zhang Zongjing’s major ideas on medical ethics and practice are explored. The author illustrates the critical role played by Zhang’s approach to medicine in the later Confucianization of medicine during the Song Dynasty, which in turn created the ideal of the traditional Confucian physician. The author also compares the ethical views of Zhang Zongjing with those of Sun Simiao (541-682), another key figure in the history of traditional Chinese medicine, who combined Confucian ethics with the moral teachings of Daoism and Buddhism.