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Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing

sparhawk

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Hi all,

Yesterday I received a very interesting tip from Harmen Mesker about a new book, by Richard J. Smith, to be released in April:

Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China (Richard Lectures) (Hardcover)

From Amazon's review:

Review
"In the West this book stands very much alone." --Edward Shaughnessy, University of Chicago, editor of China: Empire and Civilization A major contribution to the fields of Chinese intellectual history and religion. To my knowledge it is the first work in a Western language that attempts an overall picture of the place of the Yijing in Chinese history and culture."--Joseph A. Adler, Kenyon College, author of Chinese Religious Traditions

Book Description
Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World is the first full-length study in any Western language of the development of the Yijing in China from earliest times to the present. Drawing on the most recent scholarship in both Asian and Western languages, Richard J. Smith offers a fresh perspective on virtually every aspect of Yijing theory and practice for some three thousand years. Smith introduces the reader to the major works, debates, and schools of interpretation surrounding this ancient text, and he shows not only how the Book of Changes was used in China as a book of divination but also how it served as a source of philosophical, psychological, literary, and artistic inspiration.
Among its major contributions, this study reveals with many vivid examples the richness, diversity, vitality, and complexity of traditional Chinese thought. In the process, it deconstructs a number of time-honored interpretive binaries that have adversely affected our understanding of the Yijing--most notably the sharp distinction between the "school of images and numbers" ( xiangshu) and the "school of meanings and principles" ( yili). The book also demonstrates that, contrary to prevailing opinion among Western scholars, the rise of "evidential research" ( kaozheng xue) in late imperial China did not necessarily mean the decline of Chinese cosmology. Smith's study reveals a far more nuanced intellectual outlook on the part of even the most dedicated kaozheng scholars, as well as the remarkable persistence of Chinese "correlative" thinking to this very day. Finally, by exploring the fascinating modern history of the Yijing, Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World attests to the tenacity, flexibility, and continuing relevance of this most remarkable Chinese classic.
Of course, I pre-ordered a copy. :)
 

sergio

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....And so did I.Are you getting a commision,Luis? Anyway thanks for the info.
Sergio
 

sergio

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Hola Luis;
Did you get your copy of this book?I ordered mine but so far,nothing.Aparently it is a very limited edition.Any suggestions?
Sergio
 

sparhawk

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Hola Luis;
Did you get your copy of this book?I ordered mine but so far,nothing.Aparently it is a very limited edition.Any suggestions?
Sergio
LOL!!! Talk about synchronicity!! I just received mine, five minutes ago. I haven't even opened the box yet... :) Forget about Amazon, I canceled my order with them. I then ordered it directly from the University of Virginia Press. If it is any consolation for the delay, they just printed the books.

Order here, and soon. As you say, they print limited quantities:

http://www.upress.virginia.edu/books/smith.HTM

Un abrazo,
 

sergio

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Hola Luis;
Thank you for the info.I just ordered it through the link provided.
Sergio
 

sergio

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HeyLuis & HeyLise;
I got my copy like a week ago and ,although I did not have that much time available to read,in the past weekend I did manage to sink my teeth into(yes,Luis it is hard cover,I know,my dentures....)and it is a fascinating read so far.Smith certainly put things in perspective with this "biography of the Yijing" as he describe it in his introduction.I particularly enjoyed the Han Dynasty chapter which corroborated my impression upon reading Nielsen's book:it is a convoluted mess of overcomplicated theories with rules later to be dismissed,image and number symbolisms added ad nauseum..I don't know,man-no wonder in the Song dynasty they said "the hell with it-let's keep it simple and to the point".I am just starting the Song Dynasty chapter.Thanks for the tip,once again.BTW,I also order Stephen Field's book too.
Sergio
 

sparhawk

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Hola Sergio,

Glad you liked the book (to the point you had to taste it... :D). Indeed, it is a great work by Richard Smith. Crazy time for Yixue, the Han period. Very "Renaissance" in many ways. Then a long pause until the sages of the Song period got the time and support to use their heads again, in innovating ways, in connection with the Yi.

Yesterday I received my copy of Field's book, much earlier than I expected. It is a small book but full of interesting information.
 

sparhawk

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kWhat is the title of the SMith work on the Han?
Sergio refers to chapter 3 in the aforementioned book: "Han dynasty approaches to the Yijing"
 

midaughter

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The only thing that comes up on google is your comment. Where was the original discusssion?
 

sparhawk

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Hi Mary,

Read this whole thread. Sergio and I were commenting on the new book by Richard Smith (which I recommend you buy soon at $35, before it becomes a lost classic like his "Fortune-Tellers and Philosophers," which is nigh impossible to find)
 

kevin

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Harumph! I have had mine on reserve for ages and Amazon keep promising!

Thanks for the direct link.

Sparhawk – can you say a few words about Stephen Fields book please?

Or anyone?

Thanks
 

midaughter

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Fortune-tellers and philosophers

On file at Midaughter's and posted to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Midaughter/message/8812 for complete article


FORTUNE-TELLERS AND PHILOSOPHERS, Richard J. Smith, Westview Press,
Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford, 1991.

This book is subtitled "Divination in Traditional Chinese Society", and
it is a fairly comprehensive and fascinating look at that topic, very much
worth the attention of anyone interested in the subject.

Following a preface (pages xi-xiii) in which the author introduces
readers
to a definition of divination, to its popularity even today, and to
his own
interest in Ch'ing society, and an introduction (pp. 1-11) offering scenes
of present day divination, and thoughts on cultural unity and diversity,
comes a survey of divination prior to the Ch'ing Dynasty.

This historical survey, Chapter One, "Viewing the Flowers from Horseback"
(pp. 13-47), begins with the traditional view of Fu Hsi inventing the
trigrams and the development of the hexagrams. It mentions oracle bones in
pre-Shang times, the importance of Shang rulers communicating with
Shangdi, the first ancestor, shamans, dream interpretation and phrasing
questions as statements.

The change to the Chou Dynasty is seen as a movement to a more secular
time. However, there are concepts, such as the Mandate of Heaven,
correlative cosmology and five elements, as well as the continued use of
divination, including by milfoil, astrology, geomancy, physiognomy, etc. A
very significant contribution is the text of the I CHING. This has drawn
numerous commentaries (more than two hundred in a 1715 edition) and quite
varied understanding.

The Chou preserved the I CHING. The early Han scholar Tung Chung-shu (c.
179 -- c. 104 B.C.E.) underlined correlative cosmology, emphasized the
three relationships (emperor/subject, husband/wife, parent/child) and
focused on ethics. Great attention was paid to the I CHING, of which
alternate versions were available, as well as alternate systems inspired
by the I CHING. The most important of these was Yang Hsiung's (53 B.C.E. -
18 C.E.) T'AI HSUAN CHING (CLASSIC OF THE SUPREME MYSTERY). This had 81
tetragrams, instead of 64 hexagrams and a trinary (heaven, earth and man)
system, in place of the binary I CHING.

There is mention of the sense of rivalry that could exist between
Confucian scholar officials and the fangshi, but also of the admiration
such officials could have for such a specialist in divination as Sima
Jishu.

The reader is reminded that while the fall of the Han Dynasty, as the fall
of Rome, resulted in division, in China this period of division was one of
intense intellectual and cultural stimulation. Buddhism and Taoism throve.
Wang Bi (226-249) wrote an impressive commentary on the I CHING. Despite
religious prohibitions, Buddhist and Taoist priests divined. During this
period geomancy became popular, though:

The earliest book on grave location, entitled the Zangjing (Burial
Classic), is generally ascribed to a Mr. Qingwu ("Green Raven") of the
Qin-Han period, whose pseudonym became a common term for geomancy in
late imperial times. p. 37

There is reference to diviners such as Guan Lu (210-256) and Xiao Ji (d.
610). And there's the reunification of China with the Sui and then the
T'ang Dynasties. There were similarities to the Qin and Han Dynasties:

It is true that during both eras the reigning emperors continued to
promote the ancestral cult and state religion, paid close attention to
portents (with an eye toward using them to enhance their own power and
legitimacy), and tried to maintain official orthodoxy, however
defined.
They selected auspicious days on which to undertake important events,
and employed both fangshi and regular officials to undertake
astrological and calendrical calculations on behalf of the dynasty.
p. 39


Next comes the Sung Dynasty with Neo-Confucianism and its attention to the
I CHING. There's mention of inventions such as the compass and printing,
and such developments as increased literacy and refining astrology by
inclusion of the hour of birth. There is also spirit writing which the
book claims originated in, "The Tang-Song period." (p. 44. The Mongols
were very interested in divination, drawing upon Arabic astronomy and
Tibetan divination. The Ming continued this cosmopolitan approach, adding
the Western astronomy of the Jesuits.

Chapter Two, "Orthodox Cosmology in the Qing" (pp. 49-91, begins with the
deliberate Manchu support for traditional Chinese culture, and the quite
complex Chinese cosmological system. The traditional Chinese approach to
harmonizing varying factors is noted.

As Paul Unschuld has observed in his study of Chinese medicine:
"Somehow a way was always found in China to reconcile opposing views
and to build bridges -- fragile as they may appear to the outside
observer -- permitting thinkers and practitioners to employ liberally
all the concepts available, as long as they were not regarded as
destructive to society." p. 51
 

tacrab

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An update on Richard Smith's epic Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China ; it is now out in paperback from University of Virginia Press.
 

RindaR

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Now going for as much as $437.50 used.... One may choose to order it new at original price. I have no idea whether or not this is really available, but they have it advertised.
 

tacrab

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You should be able to order via online or bookstore
978-0813940465
$35 US.
 

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