Kemetin: I'm not going to get pulled into an argument on authenticity of mystical ideas cross-culturally(to be honest, it does not matter to me and it is not really a critical point in my argument in that chemical synthesis of something shows that differences are chemical and not due to qi); rather, I will say I generally addressed this, already. I said that it is naive vitalism. They are different where this form of mysticism fits in with naive vitalism. It is a pretty general abstraction, so getting into what is authentic of what and what school of what and what culture or what and what continent is not relevant. The point is that life is not carried in something; rather, life is the chemistry which comprises it; a rock is a rock because of its chemical composition and not its qi, so this idea that all things have different form of qi is not really a rebuttal in that Wöhler Synethesis shows that life is chemical. Physics and chemistry model what is essential to life to function more so than theories grounded in cosmologies dealing with qi. Generally, we can propose the existence of two large paradigms that address this(it is rather generic but it gets the idea across); medical ideas based on Biology and Chemistry and medical ideas based on mystical ideologies such as qi.
The issue then becomes which one is more accurate where one is probably more accurate than another. In other words, we are dealing with a case of induction. Empirically, this would be solved with which one cures more things more frequently and more frequently solves problems(exceptions that are not significant then become meaningless), though that is pragmatic. In terms of it being approximate of what reality is, Occam's Razor pretty much says Biochemical paradigms are more accurate because we have less assumptions where this is pragmatically supported inductively. In other words, qi does not really fit into scientific paradigms that can explain something like health in better ways. For example, it is more accurate if a doctor tells you to refrain from sexual activity due to an underlying medical condition than if a person tells you to refrain from sex due to something about qi, so I don't think normative statements predicated by mystical cosmologies should be made in a medical context because they are less likely valid. I am also well educated when it comes to the research. To be frank, a lot of the research around qi in a medical context has a lot of integrity problems so much so that they are not really scientifically supported. The point is that I don't think people on this site should be making recommendations for healthy lifestyles that are not medically supported which are morally formulated. There is not enough support. I typically stay out of this section because as with someone with a degree in Biology, I find what is said just wrong, to be honest. I am voicing my objection in this instance so that people can see a balanced argument; the site is kind of biased in one direction to be frank, so there is really no debate. Instead, there is just the reinforcement of similar ideas.
I believe the small sub-set of people who subscribe to this thinking do so because they find scientific models lacking; however, it is lacking in exceptional cases(Science can cure a lot more than what this models can cure and more frequently so you really end up with exceptions that are not the statistical trend), so you cannot really build as big of an inductive case for it as you can with medical models based on scientific research.
Personally, I find the limitations these paradigms place on things impractical where they also tend to be lifestyle limitations. I compared it to religion only in that the lifestyle that religions tend to support are usually derived from their mystical cosmology which is rather arbitrary like the mysticism we are discussing.
Firstly regarding "naive vitalism," that's something of a strawman which demonstrates an ignorance of Qi theory. As I have said, Qi is "vitalistic" only so far as it is essential to biological functions, and that biological functions can be influenced by it - but the same could be said of electromagnetism and the other fundamental forces of modern Western science. Qi is not the distinguishing factor between organic and inert matter, because everything possesses Qi.
a rock is a rock because of its chemical composition and not its qi, so this idea that all things have different form of qi is not really a rebuttal in that Wöhler Synethesis shows that life is chemical.
Addressing this point in particular, again you're oversimplifying. Nowhere is it claimed that a thing is what it is because of it's Qi instead of it's physical makeup. Both are a factor, with each influencing the other. It has simply never been a part of the theory of Qi that Qi is exclusive to organic matter and distinguishes it from inert matter (which is the concept put forward by European scientific vitalism for a brief time and which the Wohler Synthesis disproved), nor that Qi exclusively determines the properties of matter.
Secondly, Qi theory is not, as you suppose, founded on simple, ignorant observations of nature - to borrow your explanation "The idea pretty much is when things bleed too much, they die, or when people stop breathing they die, so there must be something in blood and air we cannot see that makes living things living - life is carried in the blood or in the air."
This isn't true, or at least is a vast oversimplification - yes, blood and air are both immensely important to the function of Qi within the body and the environment, but they're also immensely important on a purely mechanical, biochemical level, as you pointed out. To borrow the Hermetic maxim "As Above, So Below," what is important on one layer of existence is almost always important on another.
There might be some truth to the idea that those observations are what first lead to the development of Qi theory and Qi Gong - that the members of early societies involved with developing an understanding of the universe and man's relation to it might have made those initial observations and then followed them to explore the effects of, eg. using different breathing patterns in meditation, but once they did so they developed exercises which allowed direct experience and observation of Qi and it's effects and it is from this that they developed their theories and techniques, which were refined as they were passed down through the millennia.
Now obviously these are
theories, in the scientific sense, I'm not claiming that any particular school of Qi theory provides a perfect explanation of how Qi functions. In fact I'm open to the likelyhood that Qi is something akin to phlogiston and that the experiences undergone during Qi Gong and related practices are a result of some much more complex aspect of our reality which simply isn't widely understood yet. But traditional Qi theories provide a working model for the experience and effects of Qi, which become incontrovertible pretty fast if you engage in a serious practice of Qi Gong. The effects are very real, as anyone can discover for themselves, but are not accounted for by modern reductionist materialism theories of reality, and so until modern science is willing to expand and make a study of these things, people resort to a combination of older theories and understanding gained through personal experience.
Secondly, you seem intent on the idea that Qi theory and modern biochemical theories are somehow mutually exclusive. They simply aren't, and I'm not sure where you're getting this idea from. There's not really a whole lot more to say about that. There is nothing about the concept of Qi which requires that modern biochemistry be somehow invalidated, or vice versa. The two are not in competition, and in fact complement each other rather well on a practical level. I've never heard a Qi Gong practitioner recommend that Qi Gong or related therapies should be used in place of Western medicine.
Regarding your inductive argument, again it doesn't hold up because you're locked in this false dichotomy you picked up somewhere, this whole question of "does trying to heal exclusively with Qi Gong work better than trying to heal exclusively with modern Western medicine." This doesn't really say anything because there is nothing in Qi theory which requires that it supersede modern Western medicine as a healing methodology, and because even if it's healing potential is lesser by some degree (however you choose to quantify that), that doesn't make it nonexistent.
To round back to the sex thing - you keep using the word moral, and morality really has nothing to do with it. Saying "don't orgasm constantly" is along the same lines of saying "don't eat fast food constantly." It's a simple, nonjudgmental health recommendation, and generally only a serious issue in the case of practitoners of certain systems, where it's more akin to saying to an athlete "don't stay up all night and skip breakfast before performing in a competition, because you'll be too fatigued to perform at your best."
Regarding your last point, there's nothing arbitrary about these theories. Qi Gong is a very practical, experimentally founded and results oriented system of training. The theoretical understanding of Qi is something that evolved over thousands of years as practitioners trained and experienced the effect different environmental and lifestyle factors had on their practice. As with Western science, there's an almost Darwinian influence on the evolution of these ideas - ideas which stick around for long periods of time do so because they work, while those which do not are cast off.
Do you really think students of certain Qi Gong would have moderated their indulgence in one of life's greatest pleasures if they could have their cake and eat it too? In reality, those who couldn't bring themselves to moderate their sexual activity as necessary for their training either did themselves harm or didn't achieve results in their training, and so didn't become masters themselves and pass down their own training and advice. Those who did live the lifestyle which most effectively complemented their training would go on to achieve the benefits of their training, and through demonstrating these benefits would gain students of their own in turn and pass that training and lifestyle down a generation. This is particularly relevant in martial Qi Gong, where attainment could literally be a matter of life and death in a violent era of history and a culture where masters would often challenge eachother to prove the superiority of their school.
And again, this is only an issue with certain, generally very advanced, systems of Qi Gong. It is neither universal (there is no claim that everyone should moderate, let alone abstain from, orgasm) nor absolutist (there is no claim that it is simple a case of the less one orgasms, the better). It's a much more complicated and nuanced issue than that.
Morality simply has nothing to do with it, and quite frankly you seem to be reaching for a reason to be offended by a brief, somewhat ambiguous and off the cuff comment by Koujiryuu.
To be frank, a lot of the research around qi in a medical context has a lot of integrity problems so much so that they are not really scientifically supported.
I'd be interested in which specific research you're referring to. I have something of an amateur interest in parapsychological/metaphysical research, and to my understanding there has been little by way of properly undertaken, impartial and in-depth research into different qi gong methodologies and their effects.
Part of this is a problem on the Qi Gong end of things, Qi Gong and related therapeutic modalities (Chinese Medicine has huge problems in this area as well) was hugely watered down over the 20th century, first by the cultural revolution, which resulted in the destruction of a lot of literature, the death of many masters and the dispersing of many more out into the Chinese diaspora. Then there was the resurgence of interest in Qi Gong during the 80's "Qi Gong Mania" years, where the Chinese government initially tried to use Qi Gong as something of a replacement for the spiritual institutions they had destroyed a few decades back by spreading watered down or often completely falsified techniques as legitimate training, and then cracked down on this again when several "Guru" figures rose to power and influence. Much of the Qi Gong which has made it to the West (although not all) stems from this era, and is only loosely connected to the traditional lineages. In short, those lineages which did manage to preserve the more effective techniques went underground and are only in the last decade or two emerging (partially thanks to the internet), while the watered down "Qi Gong" cooked up by the Chinese government, often little more than calisthenic exercises, was taken up and spread to the West where it was believed to be the real thing. The end result is that, much like Indian Yoga, there's a large portion of watered down training out there with partial and limited effectiveness.
But a large part of the problem is also on the Western scientific end. Quite simply, there's an enormous stigma against displaying interest or belief of any kind in these subjects, doing so publicly, let alone expressing interest in performing research on it, can cause profound damage to a scientist's career and their standing in the scientific community. Science has, ironically, become incredibly dogmatic when it comes to these matters, instead of approaching them in the proper mindset of skeptical but impartial inquiry.
The Wohler Synthesis is a perfect example of this, an experiment undertaken nearly 2 centuries ago which disproved the specifically European theory of Vitalism, "... that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things
," is used to discredit and shut down any genuine scientific inquiry to anything which can be made to remotely resemble Vitalism, even if in reality it has absolutely nothing in common with the theory.
That bolded section has never been a part of Qi theory, and yet scientists equate the two without a second thought because at a superficial glance they appear related, and because it provides an excuse to ignore theories which contradict the current ruling dogma of reductionist materialism.
On a side note, I'd also be interested in your thoughts on the theoretical basis for whatever metaphysical phenomena you do believe in or have experienced (eg. you discuss telepathy and clairvoyance here: http://forums.vsociety.net/index.php/topic,23629.0.html
), if that's a conversation you'd be interested in having.