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Part Five: THE FIVE-ELEMENT THEORY—NATURAL PHILOSOPHY IN ANCIENT CHINA

第五部分:五行学说-中国古代自然哲学观

http://www.100md.com   2006-2-7
     The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water and their motions. The five element theory resulted from the observations and studies of the natural world by the ancient Chinese people in the course of their lives and productive labor. Since ancient time, wood, fire, earth, metal and water have been considered as basic substances to constitute the universe and they are also indispensable for life. Zuo's Interpretation of the Spring and Autumn Annals (Zuo Zhuan) says:" The five kinds of materials in nature are all used by people. None of them cannot be dispensed with". Another classical work Shang shu states: "water and fire are used for cooking, metal and wood are used for cultivating and earth gives birth to all things, which are used by people." These five kinds of substances are of the relationships of generation and restriction and are in constant motion and change. In TCM the five-element theory, as a theoretical tool, is used to explain and expound different kinds of medical problems by analogizing and deducing their properties and interrelations. It also used to guide clinical diagnosis and treatment. The theory, like the theory of yin-yang, has become an important component of the theoretical system of TCM. 五行指的是木、火、土、金、水和它们的运动。五行理论来自于古代中国人民在生活和生产劳动中对自然界的观察和学习。自古代以来,木、火、土、金、水就被认为是宇宙组成的基本物质,也是生命不可缺少的物质。《左传》曰:天生五材,民并用之,废一不可。另一部经典著作《尚书》曰:水火用于炊煮,金木用于耕耘,土壤用于孕育万物,一切皆为民所用。这五种物质存在相生相克的关系,并处于持续的运动变化之中。中医的五行理论,作为一种理论工具,通过分析和推理用于详细说明五种不同医学问题的性质和它们之间的关系。它也用于指导临床的诊断与治疗。该理论如阴阳理论一般已称为中医理论系统的重要组成部分。

    Classification of Things in Light of the Five-Element Theory. 根据五行理论进行归类

    In ancient China, the five-element theory was unceasingly developed and gradually became perfected. In time it came to recognize that everything in nature might be respectively attributed to one of the five elements. For instance, wood has the nature of growing freely and unfolding. So, anything that is similar to the characteristics is attributed to the category of wood. Fire has the nature of flaring up. Thereby the things similar to the nature of fire are classified into the attribute of fire. Earth has the nature of giving birth to all things. Thus, those that possess the nature of earth are attributed to earth. Metal has the nature of purifying and descending. Hence, those with the nature of metal can be attributed to metal category. Water has the nature of moistening and flowing downwards. For this reason, the things that have moistening, downward movement and coldness correspond to water. The following table shows the classification of partial things according to the five-element theory.(See Tab. 1) 在古代中国,五行理论不断发展渐致完善。后来,人们认识到自然界中的所有事物都能归属于五行中的一种。例如,木有生发伸展的性质,所以,任何有相似特性的物质都归属于木。火性炎上,因此,任何有相似特性的物质都归属于火。土有孕育万物的性质,因此,具有该性质的物质都属于土。金有净化和沉降的性质,因此,有金的性质的物质都归于金。水曰润下,因此,具有湿润、向下、寒冷性质的物质都属于水。以下的表格根据五行理论将部分物质进行了归类。(见表1)

    Among the five-elements, there exist the relationships of generation, restriction, subjugation and counterrestriction, and mutual affection between mother-organ and child-organ. Generation implies that one kind of thing can promote, aid or bring forth another, i. e., wood generates fire, fire generates earth, earth generates metal, metal generates water, and water, in turn, generates wood. Each of the five elements contains the dual nature -"being generated" and "generating". This relationship of the five elements is called the "mother-child" relationship. The element that generates is called the "mother", while the element that is generated is called the "child". Take wood for example, because wood produces fire, it is the mother of fire; but it is produced by water, so it's water's child. 五行当中存在生、克、乘、侮和母子相互影响的关系。生意味这一种物质可以促进、援助、产生另外一种物质,例如,木生火、火生土、土生金、金生水、水生木。五行中的任何一行都有生我和我生的双重性质。五行的这种关系叫做“母子”关系。五行中生我者为“母”,我生者为“子”。以木为例,因为木生火,故木为火之母;但是它由水所生,故又为水之子。

    Tab. 1 the Classification of Things According to the Five Elements 表1.事物的五行归类

    Restriction means bringing under control or restraint.The order of restriction goes as follows: wood restricts earth, earth does water, water does fire, fire does metal, and metal, in turn, does wood. Any one of the five elements has two aspects-being restricted and restricting. For example, the element restricting wood is metal, and the element that is restricted by wood is earth. 相克意味着控制或抑制。相克的原则如下:木克土、土克水、水克火、火克金、金克木。五行中的任何之一都有克我和我克两方面性质。例如,克木者为金,被木克者为土。

    Generation and restriction have the correlations inseparable in the five elements.And they oppose each other and yet also complement each other.Without generation,there would be no growth and development of things;without interrestriction there would be no balance and coordination during development and change,and excessive growth would bring about harm.For example,on the one hand,wood generates fire,and,on the other hand,it restrains earth;while earth, in turn,generates metal and restricts water.Precisely because generation resides in restriction and restriction resides in generation,the natural world and life processes are full of vitality,on the one hand and excessive growth will not bring about harm on the other hand.Thus,the relative balance maintained between generation and restriction ensures normal growth and development of things. 五行中的生克关系是不可分离的。它们相互对立,也相互补充。没有生就没有事物的成长和发展;没有克就没有在发展变化中的协调平衡,过渡生长会造成危害。例如,一方面,木生火;另一方面,木克土;同时土又生金及克水。正因为克中有生和生中有克,自然界和生命才拥有旺盛的生命力,这是一方面;另一方面,过度生长会造成危害。因此,生克之间维持相对平衡是事物生长和发展的保证。

    That is, ecological equilibrium in nature and physiological balance in the human body result from such relationships of generation and restriction. These relationships are illustrated in the following figure. 这就是自然界中的生态平衡,人体的生理平衡来自于生克关系的平衡。这些关系将在以下的数据中阐述。

    Fig. 2 Relationship of generation and restriction (or subjugation) of the Five Elements 表2.五行中的生克关系

    However, once any one of the five elements becomes excessive or insufficient, there would appear abnormal intergeneration and counter-restriction known as subjugation and counter-restriction (or reverse restriction). By subjugation is meant that one of the five elements overacts upon another one when the latter is weak. Therefore, it is also called "double restriction". For instance, excessive wood may over-restrict earth, resulting in insufficiency of earth, so called wood subjugates earth. This is the abnormal manifestation of disorder of inter-restriction among things. 然而,一旦五行中的任何一行变得过剩或不足,就会出现异常的相生和相克称作乘和侮。“乘”指的是指五行中的一行会对较弱一行进行过度制约。因此,也称为“双重压制”。例如,木过剩会过度抑制土,造成土的不足,叫做木乘土。这是事物之间相克失常的异常表现。

    Counter-restriction means that the strong bulliesthe weak. It is also a morbid condition in which one element fails to restrict the other in the regular order, but in reverse order. It is clear that the order of counter-restriction is just the opposite to that of inter-restriction. For example, under normal conditions, metal should restrict wood, but in case of wood-qi excess, or metal-qi deficiency, wood will counter-restrict metal instead of being restricted by metal, which is known as "wood counter-restricts metal." Therefore, Su Wen states :"When qi of a certain element is sufficient, it will encroach the restricted element and counter-restrict the restricting element. When qi of a certain element is insufficient, it will be subjugated by the restricting element and counter restricted by the restricted element," This is another manifestation of the disturbance of the equilibrium between substances (see Fig. 3). 侮指强制弱,这是一种病态表现,是一行失去对另一行的正常克制,而反被其克制。很显然,侮是相克关系的相反表现。例如,在正常情况下,金克木,但在木气过剩或金气不足时,就会出现木反克金而不是金克木,这就是“木侮金”。因此,《素问》中说:“气有余,则制已所胜而侮所不胜;其不及,则已所不胜,侮而乘之,已所胜,轻而侮之”。这是事物之间平衡失调的另一表现。(见表3)

    Fig. 3 Relalionship of subjugation and Counterrestriction of the Five Elements 表3.五行的乘侮关系

    "Affecting between mother and child" refers to abnormal intergeneration in the five elements. The generated element is considered as the child, and the generating element as the mother. Here "affecting" means having harmful influence, including both "the diseased mother-organ affecting the child-organ" and "the diseased child-organ involving the mother-organ." The former is same as the order of intergeneration, and the latter is just the reverse order of intergeneration. For instance, normally, water generates wood, which is called "mother organ's disorder affecting its child-organ"; but abnormally, water involves wood, which is called "child organ's disorder involving its mother organ" when wood affects water. (See the following figure). “母子相及”指的是五行中的异常相生。我生者为子,生我者为母。这里的“及”意味着有害的影响包括“母病及子”和“子病及母”。前者与相生的规则同,后者则与其规则相反。例如,正常情况下,水生木。当水病及木时,叫“母病及子”;当木病及水时便叫做“子病犯母”。(见下表)

    Fig. 4 Subjugation and Counter-restricting Among The Five Elements 表4.

    Special phrases 特殊词组

    1.reinforcing the spleen (earth) to strengthen the lung (metal) 1.培土生金

    2.failure of water (kidney) to nourish wood (or failure of the kidney to nourish the liver) 2.水不涵木

    3.five movements and six climates 3.五运六气

    4.wood tending to spread out freely 4.木喜条达

    5.Depression of the liver (wood) generating fire 5.木郁化火

    6.fire of the liver (wood) impairing the lung (metal) 6.木火刑金

    7.fire tending to flare/flame upward 7.火性炎上

    8.excessive fire impairing the lung (metal) 8.火盛刑金

    9.failure of fire to generate earth 9.火不生土

    10.coordination between water (kidney) and fire (heart) 10.水火相济

    11.incordination between the kidney (water) and the heart (fire) 11.水火不济

    12."being restricted" and "restricting" 12.“克我”和“我克”《内经》称“所不胜”与“所胜”

 
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