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Thread: The Book of Changes Is a Book of Divination, Not Philosophy

  1. #1
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    Default just yesterday!

    was reading the Adler translation of Chu Hsi's I-hsueh ch'i-meng

    and it appears that this debate is not new....

    but not the expression 'mere fortune telling', which is pejorative, but just that the elders did not need it for philosophy or cultivation, just for divination,

    is that correct?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hollis View Post
    but not the expression 'mere fortune telling', which is pejorative, but just that the elders did not need it for philosophy or cultivation, just for divination,
    The guy "studied" the Yi for "seven years" and feels qualified to discard "philosophy" from the classic? I think he's better off honing his Go skills... I also think there is a huge misconception that if someone is Asian they may have a better understanding of the Yi. Most are as clueless as we are... Most contemporary Chinese CAN'T even read classical Chinese... (just to mention something as basic as reading and writing)

    Well, we haven't been able to answer all the questions related to the Bible, so, who's to know what was in the minds of the writers, or compilers, of the Zhouyi, really? Nevertheless, I would refer this person to the dictionary's definition of "philosophy." Regardless of original intention, minimalist views and revisionism, the fact remains that "philosophy" has been attached to the Yijing for millennia. If Plato, in his dialogue "Timaeus", was able to attach a whole set of philosophical precepts to the five solids named after him--solids that had been known to neolithic people for at least a thousand years before the birth of Plato--, how much philosophy can one derive from a system like the Yi?

    I see no conflict with the Yi being a philosophical work, as well as a divination system. If they want to play the "chicken and the egg" metaphor with the Yi, well, let's tie "divination" to one of them and say it came first and live in peace forever thereafter. The Yi will be around, and will be used and studied, for as long as there are humans.

    Luis

  4. #4
    bruce_g Guest

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    I’ve found out long ago that American Chinese in general have little, if any, philosophical interest in the Yijing. If they did use it, it was to help them with every day decisions. I found that odd, but it has made me wonder about Yi’s original purpose in ancient China.

    I’m a bit confused by what appears to be Mun Yong-jik’s contradictions. On one hand he states “it is not a great philosophy book but a mere fortune-telling book.” Then later he says “I am not interested in knowing what will happen in the future. I refer to it just to find the best way when I face challenges and obstacles.” I wonder, how does he do that without a philosophical foundation?

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    I consider the Zhouyi to be more of a psychological work, rather than philosophical. It maps situations and the intent in them, and relates these to how we psychologically deal with that. If it were a philosophical work, it would present a world view. That however, is not made explicit in the Zhouyi.

    I suppose that some of the wings can be considered philosophical, though.

  6. #6
    bruce_g Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewald View Post
    I consider the Zhouyi to be more of a psychological work, rather than philosophical. It maps situations and the intent in them, and relates these to how we psychologically deal with that. If it were a philosophical work, it would present a world view. That however, is not made explicit in the Zhouyi.

    I suppose that some of the wings can be considered philosophical, though.
    Interesting distinction. Have to chew on that awhile. What throws me in your statement is "It maps situations and the intent in them..)." To me, intent implies philosophy. Sans intent, I could understand the work as psychology, but as soon as intent is implied, there must be a philosophical line of thought to know what that (supposed) intent is. I prefer the psychological approach over one with a designed intent.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewald View Post
    I consider the Zhouyi to be more of a psychological work, rather than philosophical. It maps situations and the intent in them, and relates these to how we psychologically deal with that. If it were a philosophical work, it would present a world view. That however, is not made explicit in the Zhouyi.
    I suppose that some of the wings can be considered philosophical, though.
    I couldn't agree more, on both counts. We don't see a philosophy until the Da Zhuan,
    but the psychology of the Zhouyi is rich, at least to anybody who can see more than
    superstition and fortune telling.

    Luis-
    I also caught the line "He concluded after studying it for seven years"
    I'm now entering my fifth decade of Yixue, with no conclusions in sight.

  8. #8
    bruce_g Guest

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    If there is no established umbrella philosophy, such as Confucianism, there is still ones idea of how things work, through observation. Even if it's as basic as Newton's "what goes up must come down", the observation exists first, then the myth or story (the sky is falling!), then the moral to the story (philosophy); and then the psychology can be applied. I can't yet see how psychology can exist without a philosophical model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce_g View Post
    I can't yet see how psychology can exist without a philosophical model.
    Sorry you can't see it yet. We'll wait while you look some more. :-)

  10. #10
    bruce_g Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by bradford View Post
    Sorry you can't see it yet. We'll wait while you look some more. :-)
    Oh, big help you are.

    Ok, let's try going directly from observation to psychology. The river flows downstream. erm, ok... now what?

    Now let's try observation to philosophy to psychology. The river flows downstream. I am like the river. I go with the flow.

    Nope, still don't see how you can eliminate the philosophic reference from which psychology can apply.

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