Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert

(*16.8.1933,  †31.3.2015)
Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert (PHoto: Helga Porkert)

Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert passed away on the 31st of March, 2015. During his last years it became very quiet around him and his residences in France and Italy, and he accepted contact from Germany only occasionally. At one time this was different. However Prof. Porkert’s was a brilliant mind dominant in the spread of Chinese Medicine in Germany and Europe from the 1970’s until the 1990’s. His Curriculum Vitae speaks for itself: He graduated in 1957 under Marcel Granet (author of “Das Chinesische Denken”) in the Parisian Sorbonne and from 1970 taught in the Ludwig Maxmilian University of Munich [public research university]. For 21 years he was a professor there of Sinology and – unique in Germany! – of Chinese Medicine. He worked together with Joseph Needham (“Celestial Lancets”). He taught worldwide; in China he was an authoritative member in the Academy for Chinese Medicine, and for years in Switzerland he contributed substantial articles to the Eranos Conference Group supported by [under the influence of the Swiss psychologist] Carl Gustav Jung in Ascona. He published over 400 translations and articles about medicine, philosophy, literature and the Chinese language, besides many of which were translated into English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Swedish, Italian and Spanish.

Manfred Porkert, as an absolutely critical companion, could best of all polarize the development of Chinese Medicine in China and the western world. Nevertheless, he introduced academic, sinological-philosophical thinking into the usually pragmatic acupuncture scene. New horizons opened from those, which approached western thinking derived from the literal “alternative” Chinese healing system. It began with the language – however language determines our world. And thus it seemed only consistent that the “normal” concepts were not used for representation of a completely different, foreign medical understanding. We are much too biased in the medical terms, [and] our perception ability is limited if we use concepts such as “heart”, “energy” or “soul”. The fact that Porkert selected Latin appeared strange and at the same time found not only enthusiasm but also trust. Nevertheless this path is still followed by numerous followers of Chinese Medicine, especially by the SMS (Societas Medicinae Sinensis) founded by him in Germany.

For me at that time the emergence of the essential differences between the western causal-analytical and the eastern inductive-synthetic thinking was revolutionary. The presentation of the analytical characterized by the mechanical, which deeply characterized western methodology, could expand horizons through both the micro- as well as the macrocosm to become complementary comprehensive analogies of the “corresponding systems”. At the same time Porkert’s thoughts were the essential bases for what was achieved decades later – adapted to the western medical world – as the occidental construct(!)“TCM”. His work “Die theoretischen Grundlagen der chinesischen Medizin” [The Theortical Bases of Chinese Medicine] opened horizons for those therapists for whom the action with Zangfu, Qi, blood and liquids for example was not sufficient and searched for the essence and the actual fundamentals of Chinese Medicine.

Even at a time in the 1970’s and the 1980’s when acupuncture in this country [Germany] almost exclusively referred to the works of Stiefvater, Schmidt, Van Nghi, Soulié de Morant and Brodde among others as purely secondary literature, Porkert translated and wrote standard works for acupuncture and pharmacology – incidentally together with professors from the TCM University in Chengdu with whom he was in a friendly interconnection for decades. For me the “Systematische Akupunktur” [Systematic Acupuncture] was the first acupuncture book which extended the dimensions of symptomatic “needling” really radically. Then from 1979 to 1994 he was also eagerly included as a speaker at the TCM Congress in Rothenburg.

Manfred Porkert – for many of our younger colleagues his thoughts can be groundbreaking. And for us “old rabbits” productively going back to the actual roots of the often superficial appearing “TCM” construct – which measures itself over and over again by the yardstick of western thinking – instead of working out the actual alternative uniqueness of this comprehensive medical and thought system.

Thank you, Prof. Man Xi Bo!

P.S. Unfortunately Porkert’s works are available only partially/antiquarianly. You can find an entire directory in the catalog of the German National Library: https://portal.dnb.de/opac.htm?method=simpleSearch&query=Porkert . . . by the way Porkert’s translation of the Ming temporal novel “Der Aufstand der Zauberer” [The Uprising of the Magician] is quite different . . .

Andreas Noll, HP, TCM
Prof. (Univ. Chengdu)

Words of Remembrance

The sudden death of Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert overpowers us with grief and great regret. His insights into Chinese culture and philosophy and his visions were unique. His life’s work included fundamental contributions to the exchange between Chinese and western culture, philosophy, ways of thinking, religion and medicine. His life was whole heartedly filled from the exploration, teaching and dissemination of Chinese Medicine.
Prof. Dr. Porkert was an old and good friend of the Chinese people and enjoyed high respect in the circles of traditional Chinese Medicine.
His death is a great loss for the intercultural communication between East and West. We have lost a true friend with great knowledge, with wisdom and a noble-minded spirit.
We will always remember him warm heartedly and be indebted to him with great thanks!
Dear Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert, rest in peace!
Prof. Huang Qingxian
for the TCM University in Chengdu
(translated into German by Andreas Noll).

A Few Words from your Director

By now many of you may wonder why I have given so much space and time to such an “old guy” whose many books and articles can seldom be obtained nowadays. And he used Latin terms? Eww!

Well, I guess in many ways I am one with the “old rabbits”. Occidental Institute of Chinese Studies opened its doors as a traditional acupuncture teaching organization on July 2, 1972 (after nearly three years of extensive training, certification, research and preparation). In researching, writing and publishing our many TCM materials over the years, some of the first and most important books and research that our founder Dr. Walter Sturm worked with were written by Prof. Porkert. Walter considered Prof. Porkert as an honored mentor, he went to Germany several times to study with him and to attend seminars, they knew each other personally and they corresponded together for years.

The work of all of the groundbreaking researchers and practitioners of acupuncture (like all those mentioned in that first obituary article – and more like Dr. Chamfrault) from that heyday of the 1970’s through the 1990’s was incorporated into our TCM courses and publications. But it was Prof. Porkert’s work which became the foundation of the way Occidental Institute taught and utilized acupuncture, and also for the many subsequent training organizations that sprang up in France, Germany, North America, Britain and Europe.

We add our memories and our grief to the many that are being voiced around the world at this great loss. Prof. Dr. Manfred Porkert may you find peace!

Carolyn L. Winsor (Sturm)
Managing Director
Occidental Institute

An Announcement for OIRF Supporters
From THE BRIDGE Newletter of OIRF
Published July 2015

From an announcement in Naturheilpraxis, Issue 6, June 2015
Machine Translation by SYSTRAN, Lernout & Hauspie, LogoMedia & Promt
Translation & redaction by: Carolyn L. Winsor, OIRF

© Copyright 2015: Naturheilpraxis, Germany

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