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An etymology of Qian.1

confucius

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Etymology of the ideogram Qian.1






Its body is composed with a multitude of fragmented parts. The interpretation of its definition is rather obscure and the way it is written has been subjected to an array of historical modifications. As it is presented in the Ma Wang Dui manuscript, it is composed of two groups: the part situated on the bottom right of the figure is a slender-looking hook suggesting a rooted seed: the hook serving as the representation of the root and the horizontal stroke as the ground level. The image it proposes is that of a seed using the ground as a lever in its effort to spring out. When this seed does mature and accomplishes its outward growth, it will be represented by another ideogram that used to represent the third hexagram: Zhun.3, Difficult Beginnings.

The second group of the figure can be separated into three distinctive elements: just above the seed of the bottom right and also on the upper left are found symbols used to describe foliage. On the middle left part of the ideogram is the symbol commonly used to represent the Sun and just below it is a symbol looking somewhat like a cross. Anciently, the symbol used to explain the symbolic of that cross was more detailed: it represented vapor blocked at ground level. The whole idea behind this group was that of the Sun which, penetrating below the foliage (therefore below and at ground level) activated the trapped energy which was until then unreleased. As it is represented here, the modified assembly of the group explaining blocked vapors is replaced by a character assimilated by the general symbol for plants.

From the historical period of the Han dynasty (from 206 b.c to 220 a.d) this part of the ideogram was interpreted as illustrating the Sun at the horizon, just above ground level. Sharing concordance with the morning dynamics associated to the Yang and by analogy with similarly composed characters such as Dawn (Sun on the horizon) and East (Sun at tree level); this composition was understood as representing the rising of the Sun.

However, focusing exclusively of the sunrise interpretation, as was instigated by the Han tradition, has narrowed the canonical meaning of this ideogram. Originally, the meaning of the ideogram focused on the richness resting below ground level, on the germinating force of the Yin, which the Sun activated as dough. Historical molding had the Han and their successors concentrate on the energetic aspect of the Sun and not its taoistic Yin-Yang symbiosis.

Confucius
 

lindsay

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Hi Confucius!

Thanks for sharing some of your ideas about Qian - many people here will find them interesting and instructive. I do not consider myself qualified to say anything specific about your etymology of Qian, but I know there are half a dozen Clarity regulars who may be willing to share a learned opinion. I hope they will help the rest of us.

I am not a big fan of Chinese pictographic etymologies, and I have said this over and over for several years in this forum and elsewhere. The pictographic method of interpretation was abandoned as the dominant model many years ago in Egyptology, and there is good reason to think the development of Chinese writing shows features similar to those found in other ancient languages.

Of course, I don't expect anybody to take my word for this - and so far nobody has. Perhaps the time has come for me the explain myself. To do this, I would like to quote a short, but comprehensive passage from a standard modern guide to Chinese linguistics, Professor S. Robert Ramsey's "The Languages of China" (Princeton University Press, 1987), pages 134-137. I am willing to take the time to type this passage because it seems worthwhile for us to to move our thinking about etymologies into the 20th century. From there it's only a short jump to the present.

"Writing is believed to have developed independently in China, but the pattern of development was the same as in the Middle East. In both cases the shapes of written symbols evolved out of simple drawings. In China such drawings can be found on fragments of ancient pottery that have been dated to around 2,000 B.C.; the designs were probably traditional and already ancient at that time. Similar pictures were also incised on many of the earliest bronzes. Some of the drawings were quite realistic, and it is often easy to see that they were intended to portray some animal, bird, or other natural object. But their meanings - if indeed they had meanings in a linguistic sense - are less clear, since the symbols appear to have been little more than decorations. There were not messages or texts to be read as language and so cannot be considered actual examples of writing. Rather, these pictures were the prototypes of Chinese characters.

"The earliest authentic specimens of Chinese writing have been found on shells and bones dating from the second millenium B.C. These late Shang period artifacts are usually called "oracle bone inscriptions" because they were used mainly for divination. A question was inscribed on the plastron of a turtle or the scapula of a cow, then a prayer was offered and heat applied to the back. The cracks formed in the shell or the bone were interpreted as divine messages. These oracle bones not only were used to foretell the future, however; they also served as records of certain kinds of events, which were then carefully stored in royal archives. In modern times around 100,000 shells and bones with inscriptions on them have been excavated. Altogether, these inscriptions contain a total of about 3,000 different characters, of which perhaps 800 have been conclusively deciphered.

"The shell-and-bone characters represented writing in the true sense of the word. They were not pictures. Many of their shapes had evolved out of earlier pictographic designs, but the symbols themselves were no longer pictorial in nature. Indeed, Shang scribes seem to have deliberately distorted the shapes to produce a stylized effect. Perhaps the symbols seemed more mystical to the early Chinese when they did not look like familiar objects; in any event, the symbols had been transformed into abstractions without obvious reference points in the real world. Each of these abstract symbols was used to represent a word or morpheme in the Chinese language, not objects or ideas.

"The early Chinese created an effective writing system out of stylized drawings by means of a crucial discovery. This discovery was the orthographic principle of the rebus. In twentieth-century Western society, rebus writing is relegated to the Sunday comic page or to riddles for children. In these rebus games a picture of an eye represents the pronoun "I", a lumberjack's saw stands for the verb "saw", a drawing of a duck's bill suggests the name "Bill", and so on until an entire English sentence emerges. But in early Chinese society, as well as in early Middle Eastern societies, the rebus was no game. Before the invention of the alphabet, the rebus was the most efficient way that people knew of to represent most words. It was easy enough to write a single horizontal line to represent "one", or two lines to represent "two"; but how could a scribe record the number "ten thousand"? The solution that the Chinese hit upon was the use the stylized drawing of an insect much like a scorpion, because their word for this insect sounded like their word for "ten thousand" (now pronounced wan4 in Peking dialect). Thus, in an account book a picture of a scorpion indicated in rebuslike fashion the number that was meant. The word for "that" (qi2) sounded very similar to the word for "winnowing basket" (ji1) so that a schematic drawing of a basket could suffice for both; the graph for "to come" (lai2) was derived from the drawing of the near-homonym, "(a stalk of) wheat". This kind of rebus association is the principle that underlies the structure of the majority of Chinese characters. For a comparable writing system, where the rebus principle is just beginning to be exploited, see the section on Naxi writing in Chapter 11.

"One more orthographic technique was devised as a refinement on the rebus, however. This technique consisted of adding what is often called a "radical" to the borrowed character to give a hint as to the meaning. Since widespread use of "borrowed characters" produced whole series of words transcribed with the same graph, there was potential for confusion; under these circumstances the addition of a second element was necessary to show which of the various homonyms or near-homonyms was being transcribed. In other words, the rebus-type association hinted at the pronunciation, and the radical gave an additional clue by hinting at the meaning. By forming compound graphs in this way, the Chinese were able to represent unambiguously any word in their language.

"About 90 percent of all characters were made up this way. (Only a tiny fraction were ever directly derived from pictures.) The Chinese writing system is therefore structured almost entirely according to the phonetic principle of the rebus, and this fact can be used to investigate the pronunciation of earlier Chinese"

Now, none of this is especially controversial. The book I quoted by Prof. Ramsey was used as a textbook for the course on Chinese linguistics at my university, and I have seen it many times at other colleges and universities in America. Ramsey is merely summarizing the current consensus stemming from the work of dozens of specialist scholars.

Another thing you may have noticed is the emphasis on how Old Chinese was pronounced. This is a critical area of information in trying to interpret old Chinese characters (thanks to the rebus system), and many great scholars - the awesome Bernhard Karlgren, for one - have devoted their lives to reconstructing the sounds of Archaic Chinese. This work continues. You may also be interested to learn that the single most important philological source for studying and reconstructing the pronunciation of Old Chinese is the rhymes in the "Book of Odes" (Shijing). And guess which book is the closest in language of all other existing Chinese works to the "Book of Odes"?

Anyway, I hope you can see why I mistrust interpreting Chinese characters like Rorschach diagrams. The "let's look at the picture" approach is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the birth of the Chinese written language.

Thanks for your patience,
Lindsay
 
J

jesed

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Hi Lindsay

Thanks for YOUR patience, not only in the transcription of the quote; but in your persistence about the importance of modern linguistic development to understand the Yi

Best wishes
 
B

bruce_g

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Thanks, Confucius and Lindsay. Following with interest, and also hoping our in-house scholarly types weigh in on this subject.
 
H

hmesker

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lindsay said:
"The shell-and-bone characters represented writing in the true sense of the word. They were not pictures. Many of their shapes had evolved out of earlier pictographic designs, but the symbols themselves were no longer pictorial in nature. Indeed, Shang scribes seem to have deliberately distorted the shapes to produce a stylized effect.
I wonder if they did this deliberately or that is was a consequence of the tools they used. Carving in bone, hard material, makes it hard to make round figures. The nature of the material makes the carvings stylized. I think.

It was easy enough to write a single horizontal line to represent "one", or two lines to represent "two"; but how could a scribe record the number "ten thousand"? The solution that the Chinese hit upon was the use the stylized drawing of an insect much like a scorpion, because their word for this insect sounded like their word for "ten thousand" (now pronounced wan4 in Peking dialect). Thus, in an account book a picture of a scorpion indicated in rebuslike fashion the number that was meant. The word for "that" (qi2) sounded very similar to the word for "winnowing basket" (ji1) so that a schematic drawing of a basket could suffice for both; the graph for "to come" (lai2) was derived from the drawing of the near-homonym, "(a stalk of) wheat". This kind of rebus association is the principle that underlies the structure of the majority of Chinese characters.
Although I agree 100% with what the writer says, he also says that the characters were representations of concrete objects - in other words, pictures. The examples he gives are pictures of a scorpion, a winnowing basket and wheat. In other words, originally Chinese characters were pictures. But we should not always read them as such, the meaning of the character is not always found in the object that it originally represents. "The character depicts a scorpion, therefore it means 'scorpion'"- that would be a fallacy. Nevertheless, it is a picture of a scorpion.

The "let's look at the picture" approach is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the birth of the Chinese written language.
I can understand that, and I agree that you should never read a character (only) as its OBI predecessor, but nevertheless the picture approach is sometimes the only way you have to shed new light on a character. For instance, the character of hexagram 2, kun 坤, only appears in the Yijing. We have no other books from the same time era as the Yijing which use this character, all other books which use this character do it with a reference to the Yijing. Now, the whole interpretation and meaning of this character comes form much later ages, and if I want to find out if the character might have other earlier meanings as well, I have only one way left: look at it as if it were a picture of something, be it abstract or concrete. After all, I do not have other references to cling to, so what else can I do? But it should be a last resort, if you have nothing else which helps you further.
Also, there are many OBI characters of which we don't know its contemorary equivalent (if there is one). All we can do with these characters is see them as pictures, hoping that, if we discover the right explanation of its form, that it tells something about the meaning.

Best,

Harmen.
 

confucius

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Etymology of the ideogram Kun.2

Etymology of the ideogram Kun.2






The ideogram used to represent the second hexagram is twofold. The symbol on the left is the general application for the expressions concerning the Ground, the Earth or the Soil. It is here seen in its compressed form, as is always the case when it is encountered in a composite figure. Its ancient purpose was to illustrate a raised stone, a sort of megalithic altar, a pedestal, used in the ceremonies of worship to the Earth. This ancient origin, more spiritual than it was agricultural, was a tribute to the fertile virtues of the Earth and all the Yin analogies it entails, a natural feature in a culture renown for promoting a sedentary lifestyle and its attachment to the land. In the context on the Yi Jing, this would partially explain why it is often encountered as part of the highly favorable mantic appreciation Opportunity.

On the right part of the ideogram is a rather simple graphic whose global meaning expresses the idea of Continuous Extension. One of its archaic representations, suggesting two hands pulling a rope in opposite directions, illustrated the concerting action of two dialectic forces. As it is presented here it suggests the infinite extension of the germinating power originating from the Yin Earth.

On the silk manuscript found in 1974 at Ma Wang Dui, the ideogram used to illustrate this hexagram is different. It was, at this point and time, called Waterway. This choice proves again that the names dedicated to the trigrams were applied after those of the hexagrams composed of two identical trigrams. It evoked the never ending expansion of the Yin flow according to a horizontal movement. It here serves as an echo to the ascending vertical movement described by the name and the unfolding of Qian.1, the Creative Spark, the first hexagram.




*The silk manuscript was found with the tomb of the marquis of Kui. It is to date the oldest known copy of the Yi Jing .It was buried in 178 b.c. It is virtually identical in content to the modern editions aside the fact that it bears no mention of trigrams of names attached to them.


Confucius
 

heylise

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I agree with Confucius' description of the left part of kun.
But not with the right part. Later it does indeed look like two hands, stretching out something, but the OBI characters don't look like that. They resemble much more a lightning bolt. The etymology page says "probably a man kneeling and praying facing left", but there is only one character, a bronze one if I remember right, which looks like that.
SHEN, its meanings: stretch-out, spirit, ghost, explain, to state, express, power of expression or lightning. In it’s oldest version it is written more or less like a double spiral: a picture of lightning. With the radical altar, it means spirit, god.

About etymology and rebus and everything I agree completely with Harmen. So I also think Lindsay's professor is right, but only partially. But nevertheless, thanks Lindsay, for sharing it! And about stilizing: ever looked closely at a recipe, what doctors do with letters? They write a lot, so they write fast. In China they even have grass-script, it looks as if it has been invented by doctors. Beautiful, but not looking like characters at all anymore. Like wind blowing the reeds.

LiSe
 

lindsay

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Hi Harmen -

I think we have to distinguish "pictures" (actual representations) from "symbols" (metaphorical representations). Ramsey is saying that in Old Chinese writing, a picture of a scorpion (however stylized) rarely points to the meaning "of or pertaining to a poisonous insect". Instead, it is usually symbolic of the sound of the Old Chinese word for "scorpion".

One of the central tenets of modern Chinese historical philology is that Chinese writing evolved out of the ancient Chinese spoken language. It did not evolve as a sort of independent sign language based on actual representations.

Archaic Chinese characters primarily developed by trying to imitate or suggest the spoken sound of words by means of the rebus, a picture or sign or symbol for the SOUND of one word that resembles or mimics the SOUND of another (unrelated) word.

Chinese writing is not a pictographic language. You can analyze the putative pictures contained in characters forever, and never come close to understanding their meaning. That is because the pictures represent sounds, not concepts. This principle holds for 90% of all the Old Chinese we can decipher. No doubt there are a some examples of direct representation (the numbers "one" and "two" for example), but if you rely on analyzing the pictures by content, you have less than a 1 in 10 chance of being correct about the character's true meaning. Those are poor odds even for guesswork.

I can give an alphabetic analogy that expresses what is wrong with using the pictographic approach. Let's say we substitute our alphabet with pictures of fruits and vegetables. A=Apple, B=Banana, O=Olive, T=Tomato, and so on. Now what if you saw a word consisting of pictures of bananas, olives, apples, tomatos? The word is "boat". Is it helpful to speculate on what object or idea might incorporate the essences of apples, olives, tomatos, and bananas? Of course not. The writing is not pictographic, even if it is composed of picture symbols. So it is with Chinese.

Now there is a great deal of "potted" etymology in the I Ching world, derivations of meaning based on the pictorial value of character-components which - surprise! surprise! - always seem to illustrate what the author thinks the character meant all along. How convenient! It reminds me of the intellectual contortions that sometimes occur when people try to reconcile the trigram system with the hexagram texts. People refuse to believe these are two entirely different symbol systems, invented at different times for different reasons. They can complement each other, but they always remain separate and (in some degree) incompatible.

My advice is to take most discussions of Chinese etymology in I Ching books with "a bag of salt" - no, "a freight-container of salt" - no, better make that "a super-tanker full of salt".

Lindsay
 
H

hmesker

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Hi Lindsay,

Your comments are interesting and valuable, as always. But what you say is difficult for me to understand. It seems to me as if you say 'Chinese is not a pictographic language, but the Chinese characters are pictures'. It seems so contradictory. I do understand that 'sound' defined the shape of the character, but nevertheless it always turned out to be a picture of something, not an abstract random figure.

lindsay said:
Now there is a great deal of "potted" etymology in the I Ching world, derivations of meaning based on the pictorial value of character-components which - surprise! surprise! - always seem to illustrate what the author thinks the character meant all along. How convenient! It reminds me of the intellectual contortions that sometimes occur when people try to reconcile the trigram system with the hexagram texts. People refuse to believe these are two entirely different symbol systems, invented at different times for different reasons. They can complement each other, but they always remain separate and (in some degree) incompatible.
Yes, I gave an example of that recently on my weblog ( http://www.i-tjingcentrum.nl/serendipity/archives/89-The-remarkable-deductions-in-xiangshu-explanations.html ). Ah well, let them play along. After all, in the process of divination these correlations can prove helpful.

My advice is to take most discussions of Chinese etymology in I Ching books with "a bag of salt" - no, "a freight-container of salt" - no, better make that "a super-tanker full of salt".
Something like this?



Many of the etymological explorations that we find in some Yijing books don't go further than the work of Wieger and Karlgren, they only repeat what these influential persons said before them. That's a pity and can hardly be called 'proper research'.

Harmen.
 
B

bruce_g

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Hi Lindsay,

My understanding is that it isn’t known one way or the other whether trigrams evolved before, after or during the development of hexagrams. However, I have found the correlation of trigram symbolic logic to be too consistent and useful to discount, simply because some professor somewhere says it’s never been proven, or whose own research reaches a different conclusion.

I can not speak within the context of etymology, but I can recognize the improbability of your statistics, i.e.: “90% of pictures represent sounds, not concepts.” Logic tells me the odds are likely to be no greater than 50%; and that with the intention of lending benefit of doubt to your argument.

Thirdly, it strikes me that you are using western thought to decipher eastern thought and language, i.e.: “substitute our alphabet with pictures of fruits and vegetables.”

I don’t think any of this qualifies as meaning “none of this is especially controversial.” I believe it’s highly controversial.

At any rate, while I find your presentation lacking in openness to elements other than purely academic, I greatly enjoy reading and contemplating them.
 

hilary

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Confucius, I hope you're enjoying this! I am :)

What really jumps out for me from Lindsay's posts is the idea that the starting point is a spoken language - and an oral divinatory tradition, most likely - and so the written ideogram is secondary to that. (I believe some of the differences between the received text and the Mawangdui version are homonyms, right? For instance, that the 'fu' hotly debated as sincerity/war captives is replaced by 'fu' as in 'Return'? Which suggests that 'war captives' was at the least not a core meaning by then...)

It seems to me that there's another unanswerable-but-intriguing question here, though - to do with authorial intent. Just because the pictographic elements wouldn't be of use to, say, an accountant, does that necessarily mean that someone recording an oracle wouldn't make full use of them?

I think there's even some evidence that they did so. Take this line from hexagram 2's Judgement:
先 迷 後 得
Before/ancestors confusion, afterwards/descendants achieve. Or something - translated as either 'pioneering means confusion, following behind brings achievement' or 'at first confusion, later achievement'. I'm reading from Wenlin here, so the information might be out of date, but anyway -

person + foot / footprint

rice/grains + 'go' (= foot + footprint)

walking slowly in file (with silk thread)

hand and cowrie (the 'walking' element is apparently a modern addition)

My gut feeling would be that this kind of pattern contributes to the meaning.




 

lindsay

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Hi Bruce -

Let's make a few things clear.

As far as using trigrams go for divination, I'm for it. It's just that every morning I shave with Occam's Razor, and I don't like over-elaborate arguments that try to make everything in the world agree with everything else. Distinctions are important. Life would be impossible without them, and most people succeed or fail according to their ability to deal with them. I do not doubt trigram analysis is as valid as anything else for divination, and in any case their usefulness is ultimately a matter personal opinion.

The whole "Eastern v. Western way of thinking" bit is a red herring. Nine times out of ten it is simply an excuse to evade serious discussion. Do you think there is no logic in Asia? Do you think the rules of evidence do not apply there as well as here? Do you suppose questions of fact are not dealt with in pretty much the same way they are here?

Which brings us to the main issue, the etymology of Chinese characters. Bruce, this is not a question of opinion, it is a matter of fact, of finding the truth. Ideally, any statement about a historical process is either true or false. Realistically, given our imperfect state of knowledge, most historical explanations are partially true or partially false. But we must strive after the truest explanations we can find.

I am presenting you with the fact that most Chinese characters evolved out of components (some of them are pictures) that represented certain sounds. True or false? Serious students all over the world - some are academics - who work on this problem professionally say this is a true proposition. This is not my opinion, this is a fact.

If this is a true proposition, then etymological analysis that relies on the meaning of the components rather than their sound in spoken Chinese is very likely to be mistaken, since this does not reflect how Chinese writing came to be. To continue doing this is like continuing to insist the world is flat. Again, this is not a question of opinion, this is a question of fact.

Concretely, it means that etymological work like that of 'Confucius' and LiSe is likely to be, by and large, flawed and untrue. It may be poetry, it may sound nice, but it is probably a false analysis of the historical evidence. The method is weak and misleading, but everything depends on individual cases. Even walking will get you to China sooner of later.

In questions of fact, truth is everything. I do not want to know all the possible ways an automobile might work, I want to know the true reason my engine won't start - so I can fix it. When the full truth cannot be known, then we must compromise and accept explanations with the highest possible degree of truth. How do we judge the degree to which something is true? By the rules of evidence - the same rules we use to decide disputes and cases at law.

So far absolutely nothing I've said would be objectionable to any reasonable person. Etymology is a body of knowledge, of true or provisionally true facts. It has no other purpose outside the realm of establishing the true origin of language. So when an etymological method leads to false results, it should be abandoned. That is the honest thing to do.

Scientists and historians are forced to abandon appealing hypotheses all the time by the inconvenient facts. This is the natue of the enterprise of establishing factual, provable knowledge. This is not to deny other forms of knowledge exist as well, but etymology belongs in the camp of science, not myth.

Lindsay
 

hilary

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All sounds reasonable to me. Does it make any difference to divination?

Like for instance the time I was reading for a father about his daughter, who has cerebral palsy. The answer contained hexagram 16, and I talked about elephants in my interpretation. Afterwards, he told me that when he does her stretching exercises with her, he says 'tell the elephants to let go of your legs' - this is a family in-joke.

(Note, especially for Chris - the owner of the reading very kindly gave me permission to share this story.)

Seems to me there are about three questions here:

1) Is the pictographic element of characters a reliable guide to their meaning in general?
(And I think Lindsay has the answer to that -though as Harmen says, sometimes it is the only guide we have.)

2) Is it part of the fabric of meaning of the Yijing text?
(I reckon it is. At least, as an interpreter of texts I never assume that vivid patterns I can perceive should be discarded because an authority tells me that they can't really be there. I remember having a discussion a bit like this about medieval French texts. Authority said that because they were written by several different authors, there couldn't be continuity of symbolism etc between the different sections. There really was - if you could suspend disbelief for long enough to look.)

3) Can the pictographic elements be part of the meaning in and experience of divination?
(Is there an elephant in the room?)
 
B

bruce_g

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Hi Lindsay,

I’m humored. You are saying that if 60% of something can be proven as true, that it is only right to assume that the remaining 40% of unknowns must also be true, until such time as it is proven otherwise.

To say that differences between early Chinese thought and modern western thought is only a red herring - especially given what isn’t yet to be “truly” deciphered or clearly understood - is an act of faith and/or perception on your part. At least I present my ideas as only being my perceptions, even if there are many evidences to support it. If/when they are proven or unproven with absolute certainty, I’ll make the necessary adjustments to my thinking.

In fact, I see several leaps of faith on your part, which you have labeled as indisputable truths. Nothing wrong with not knowing something with absolute certainty, unless they are assumed to be undisputable facts. How much speculation have you exercised concerning, for example, this “fact”?: “Chinese writing is not a pictographic language.”

I believe it’s perfectly safe to state that rebus played a major role in the development of Chinese language. I don’t believe it’s perfectly safe to claim that 90% of Chinese language was derived from this method; and yet you present it as fact. This leaves me wanting.

Also, I’m confused about what is accurately concluded from Chinese etymology, and what is useful for divination purposes. Shouldn’t there be a seamless connection between the two? Have we merely fantasized Yi’s intended meanings, as derived from trigrams?

Nonetheless, I always learn something valuable from your contributions. Thanks!
 
B

bruce_g

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chuckling to myself here..

Just for fun, try to imagine what a western authored Book of Changes might look like. Then compare it to the Yijing as we know it. Bit more than a red herring, me thinks. :eek:
 
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lightofreason

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lindsay said:
The whole "Eastern v. Western way of thinking" bit is a red herring. Nine times out of ten it is simply an excuse to evade serious discussion. Lindsay
When one moves to what is the SAME across us all, one moves to the level of the species where there is no 'east vs west' difference. At that level meaning is all blending, bonding, bounding, and binding ;-) - all sourced in our neurology and so blind to local contexts.

Thus heaven = expansive blending as compared to earth = contractive blending. BOTH deal with issues of wholeness. As does:

bound deal with issues of parts, boundaries (water, fire)
bond deals with issues of sharing of space (lake, mountain)
bind deals with issues of sharing of time (wind, thunder)

The same generic qualities we find in water, fire, heaven, earth are present in Western labels of earth/air, fire/water. DIFFERENT contexts, SAME generic qualities.

The LOCAL context of the west did not formally recurse further, that of ancient china did and so developed a specialist form of representation but what was being represented was patterns of blending, bonding, bounding, and binding or their composite forms.

Note that our senses are also specialisations and so allow for unique experiences of vision or audition etc BUT behind all of these senses are universals in the form of qualities of blend, bond, bound, bind ala whole, static relatedness, part, dynamic relatedness.

Then note that EACH of us are specialisations BUT will 'favour' a perspective rooted in blend, bond, bound, bind (and so the isomorphism of IC, IDM, and MBTI categories - same qualities, different contexts).

Given the past LACK of information re the IC etc, or more so re US as a species, so analysis of the IC has been limited to trying to decode 'surface structure' stuff - but we can now go for the deep structure and in doing so 'transcend' the traditional, local context, IC and move into the full spectrum form (XOR-ing etc etc and no need for Chinese language etc in that we can get the IC to tell us about itself through XOR etc- our struggles in interpretations are shifted to having finer detail to play with and detail not sourced in any one of us as humans, detail embedded in the IC itself as a consequence of the method used to create it - self-referencing)

So --- from the level of the universal, there is no 'East/West' issue. There is recognition that the universals are in need of local grounding and so will elicit 'East/West' differences in local interpretations but the GENERIC meanings will be constant (since that is what universals are about ;-))

This constancy reflects another form of constancy - numbers. IOW both the symbolisms of the IC and the format of numbers reflect 'dimensionless' and so 'pure' expressions of relationships - which is what constants do. ANY number is a DERIVED form of representation of some relationship as is, for example, a hexagram a 'constant' representing two trigrams or six lines of three digrams where the differences in the relationships are such that they elicit a constant - balance is maintained as each element in the relationship can go through ups n downs.

Chris.
 
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lightofreason

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bruce_g said:
chuckling to myself here..

Just for fun, try to imagine what a western authored Book of Changes might look like. Then compare it to the Yijing as we know it. Bit more than a red herring, me thinks. :eek:
No - something far far more precise than the traditional material, transcending 10th century BC thinking since we have envolved a bit and so we can move the IC into the 21st century AD. ;-) :cool:
 
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lightofreason

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BTW - due to the isomorphism, modern western forms of the IC include - Modern Mathematics or the MBTI - both focus on prediction and both are based on the same principles as the IC - self-referencing - from which they derive their basic forms of representation.

Chris.
 
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bruce_g

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OMG, Chris, I’m shocked that you would say that! :eek: ;)

But I wonder, Chris, where would your I Ching Plus and IDM material be if there was no such thing as traditional I Ching, first? :cool:
 
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lightofreason

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bruce_g said:
OMG, Chris, I’m shocked that you would say that! :eek: ;)

But I wonder, Chris, where would your I Ching Plus and IDM material be if there was no such thing as traditional I Ching, first? :cool:
My IDM material comes out of the neurology - not the IC. I use the IC as an example of that neurological dynamic. If the IC wasnt around I would still be working with such specialisations as the MBTI, Mathematics, categories of human emotions, categories of socioeconomic patterns etc etc etc and the overall focus on recursion. The XOR material etc comes from the methodology, not the IC, and so applies to the MBTI categories etc as it does to the IC.

The IDM material has, IMHO, brough the IC back to 'life' and takes it out of its usual interpretation in the West as some 'chinese philosphy/divination' system and moves it into the 21st century. :cool:
 
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lightofreason

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new image format

BTW - a new format for the hexagrams; see the attachement - what do you think? (this is 23)
 

martin

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Looks Egyptian, Chris! :)
Perhaps rotate it a bit to suggest depth, a path? (line 1 nearby, line 6 far away)
 
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bruce_g

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Chris, yeah, I like it. It feels right. Especially the unreachable fruit on the top. Also, growing taller as unsubstantial things are lost. Would also make a nice logo!


Lindsay,

Look, my friend, I know I’m way out of my league here in a discussion of etymology, and please understand how much I respect your studies and knowledge. But like yourself, I’m the devil’s advocate; and you present such juicy topics with such conviction, I can not help but to offer you a small challenge here and there.
 

heylise

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Oooo, wish I had more time! LOVE this thread and want to dive right into it. Everyone saying really interesting things, which make my fingers itch to start typing. Hilary's point is beautiful.

Who knows, maybe I can cheat time a bit.

LiSe
 

martin

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Hilary mentioned 3 questions. A fourth question could be: how serious can we take the hexagrams, those 6 lines?
Can we say what a hexagram means, based on its structure, without studying the text?

Chris takes the hexagrams seriously, so does Nigel Richmond.
What do others here think?
 
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hmesker

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hilary said:
All sounds reasonable to me. Does it make any difference to divination?
Like for instance the time I was reading for a father about his daughter, who has cerebral palsy. The answer contained hexagram 16, and I talked about elephants in my interpretation. Afterwards, he told me that when he does her stretching exercises with her, he says 'tell the elephants to let go of your legs' - this is a family in-joke.
I do not think it makes any real difference in the practice of divination. The text or system that you use will be applied and will work, it does not really matter what it is or where it stems from. Everything can serve as an oracle. You only have to be able to read its answers. So, if you use a text which talks about elephants, and you find that text valuable in divination, then that text will be meaningful to you. It hardly matters if it has to do with the original Yijing; the text that you use will work for you.

The question about elephants in hexagram 16 is only relevant from a historical/translational perspective. When you consult the Yijing you should not be bothered by it.

1) Is the pictographic element of characters a reliable guide to their meaning in general?
I think not. There are too many characters in which the meaning of the sound part does not seem to be related to the meaning of the character as a whole. Nevertheless I myself always try to find out if the sound part not only gives the sound but also adds meaning to the character. The fact that a component represents the sound does not necessarily imply that it does not add meaning.

2) Is it part of the fabric of meaning of the Yijing text?
(I reckon it is. At least, as an interpreter of texts I never assume that vivid patterns I can perceive should be discarded because an authority tells me that they can't really be there.
Ah, but diviners (like you) are trained in seeing patterns in the answers and in the text. It would not benefit your job as a diviner if you would discard the patterns that you discover. You work with what you get, and what you get is important to you, and that enables you to see patterns. But seeing patterns is an entirely subjective matter. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

3) Can the pictographic elements be part of the meaning in and experience of divination?
Yes, they can be very helpful in the practice of divination. When it comes to divination there are hardly limits. Anything that can give you the flash of awareness can and may be applied - it does not matter if it is etymological or historical correct. Ritsema & Karcher's book is an example of this. Many meanings they give of a character are not meanings in the true sense of the word but merely interpretations (gou 姤, hexagram 44, does not mean 'magnetism', in no Chinese book is it ever used with this meaning. But it fits the general view that most people have of hexagram 44). From a translator's perspective I find it awful, from a diviner's perspective it might come in handy.

In short: using the Yijing is entirely different from translating the Yijing.

A fourth question could be: how serious can we take the hexagrams, those 6 lines?
Can we say what a hexagram means, based on its structure, without studying the text?
If you mean that we don't have a manual like the Ten Wings which tells about the trigrams and the lines, then it will be very difficult. Then it is just a bunch of lines. Only if someone comes up with a systemization, then it will become meaningful.

Personally I believe there is not a link between the text and the hexagrams or its lines. But especially xiangshu experts are very inventive in seeing correlations. "Why do hexagrams 5 & 6 talk about 'crossing the great river'? Because they both have the trigram Water of course!" "Why does hexagram 13 talk about 'crossing the great river'? Because it contains the trigram Fire, which is the opposite of Water. Isn't that obvious?" "Why does hexagram 18 talk about 'crossing the great river'? (and this comes from Wilhelm HM) (This) is suggested by the lower trigram, which means wood (hence boat) and wind (hence progress), and the the lower nuclear trigram Tui, lake."

I mean, if you really want you can see connections everywhere. To me it is all too far-fetched.

Harmen.
 
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bruce_g

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hmesker said:
I do not think it makes any real difference in the practice of divination. The text or system that you use will be applied and will work, it does not really matter what it is or where it stems from. Everything can serve as an oracle. You only have to be able to read its answers. Harmen.
So, why use Yi at all? Why not read tea leaves or the clouds in the sky, if there’s no correlation in lines, trigrams or even hexagrams? Why be concerned if a text is accurate or just a of menagerie of speculative conjectures? Or is this Lindsay’s point?

I dunno, gang, it seems that there should be an intelligent balance of literalism and creative cognition, when using the Yijing. One extreme or the other falls into an abyss, imo.
 
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lightofreason

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martin said:
Looks Egyptian, Chris! :)
Perhaps rotate it a bit to suggest depth, a path? (line 1 nearby, line 6 far away)
(1) I have some book somewhere that links the IC to original work done in Persia, so....!

(2) Since the symbol represents both a temporal form and a spacial form it comes down to finding a middle. The image captures the general-to-particular, raw-to-refined, nature as well as the 'railroad tracks' to bring out the temporal form of interpretation. Note that a hexagram can be interpreted as a whole in either raw OR refined form - e..g. 23 is both 'housekeeping' as it is 'full throttle pruning' by some high priest/priestess - the latter being the exaggeration of 'housekeeping'. THEN comes the ability to map a temporal nature without 'exaggerations' in that each step is no different to the previous other than in sequence order. All of this comes down to the issues of the cardinal vs the ordinal in the the symbols are gerunds in form and so contain both - LOCAL context then collapses the 'wave' to bring out a particular.

Chris.
 
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hmesker

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bruce_g said:
So, why use Yi at all?
Because the Yijing is connected to a philosophy which gives it all meaning. Yin & Yang, change and how these interact, the Chinese culture and values that we find in the text, that is what makes the Yijing such a good oracle. It is not just a bunch of random chapters; the hexagrams can help us to find patterns in the book, and these patterns can be related to our own life. The images that the Yijing applies are vivid, they sparkle your imagination, more then any other mantic method, as far as I'm concerned.

Why not read tea leaves or the clouds in the sky, if there’s no correlation in lines, trigrams or even hexagrams?
There is a system that correlates lines, trigrams and hexagrams, in the Ten Wings this is all mentioned. Personally I am not 100% sure if this is a later invention or from the beginning meant to be incorporated in the system of the Yijing. But that does not really matter. The Ten Wings gives us tools to work with the hexagrams. But I do not believe there is a link between the words of the text and the (components of) the hexagrams.

Why be concerned if a text is accurate or just a of menagerie of speculative conjectures?
If you are not concerned with the Yijing: use what fits you. But if you want to use the Yijing I assume you want to use that version of the book that comes closest to the original, instead of a weak derivation of it. Then you want to know if the text is accurate. But for the practice of divination this is not really important.

I dunno, gang, it seems that there should be an intelligent balance of literalism and creative cognition, when using the Yijing. One extreme or the other falls into an abyss, imo.
I don't think that 'literalism' is important in using the Yijing. I mean, look at the people who use The I Ching Workbook by Wing, or, even worse, I Ching in Ten Minutes by Kaser. Especially the latter hardly has anything to do with the Yijing, but the people who use these books do get meaningful answers. They believe they are using the Yijing, but from my point of view they aren't. Which brings up another question: what defines the Yijing for you? For me a book can only be called the Yijing if it contains 1. the hexagrams, and 2. (a proper translation of) the Zhouyi. If one of these two is lacking I do not consider it a Yijing. To me the many interpretations that exist are not Yijings, they are only an author's personal view of the Yijing.

Harmen.
 

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