...life can be translucent

Menu

Fei Ren / Xiao Ren

cjgait

visitor
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
276
Reaction score
1
In another thread, which I am not getting further involved in, the technical subject of fei ren is brought up.

There is a symmetric relation between the xiao ren (small person) and fei ren (lit. 'non-person'). The xiao ren is a yin person in a yang position. The fei ren is a yang person in a yin position. In ancient China, the typical fei ren was a noble captured in battle. Condemned either to a life of ignoble slavery in the household of his enemy or imprisoned and waiting to be ransomed, the fei ren was a leader of his own society who was out of place. This is a very effective image for a yang person in a yin position.

The examples of the xiao ren as a yin person in a yang position are numerous and elaborated in many places in the commentaries.

Note that in both cases there is no element of evil mentioned in the Yi. This is because the juxtaposition of good and evil belongs to a later period and a different set of cultures. Rather, the xiao ren has a bad effect when they are in a place of power precisely because they are out of place. Like a cancerous cell, they grow and damage the whole organism. In another context their growth would contribute to the organism.

Thus there is no intrinsic 'evil nature' in the system, just 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time', or, at most, developing along bad lines. This is not to say that accumulated negative force can safely be ignored. One of the key uses of the Yi was to determine how and when to deal with 'rebel leaders', 'invade the demon country', etc. In ancient times these were literal terms. Now they apply as metaphors in our personal lives.

Unless you have an army to deploy in the war, the Yi is not really useful for getting advice on war. I feel that the Yi is always a subjective oracle. Thus it was the ancient kings themselves that would consult the tortoise shell oracle. They were personal representatives of their society, so they posed the questions. If an individual poses such questions, what can they be seeking other than pandering to their idle curiosity or, worse yet, 'riding in a carriage and tempting robbers'?
 

getojack

visitor
Joined
Jun 13, 1971
Messages
589
Reaction score
2
One small comment

cjgait said:
Unless you have an army to deploy in the war, the Yi is not really useful for getting advice on war. I feel that the Yi is always a subjective oracle. Thus it was the ancient kings themselves that would consult the tortoise shell oracle. They were personal representatives of their society, so they posed the questions. If an individual poses such questions, what can they be seeking other than pandering to their idle curiosity or, worse yet, 'riding in a carriage and tempting robbers'?
The reason ancient kings consulted the oracle and not the commoners is that the kings were thought to be "Sons of Heaven," with a direct line of communication to the Divine. It was not specifically because they had an army and could wage war.
 

cjgait

visitor
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
276
Reaction score
1
Consulting Privileges

getojack said:
The reason ancient kings consulted the oracle and not the commoners is that the kings were thought to be "Sons of Heaven," with a direct line of communication to the Divine. It was not specifically because they had an army and could wage war.
Yes, and an individual consulting today is also not likely to be able 'move the capital' even if they are head of state. But I didn't intend to tie one particular prerogative of the king to divination.

In point of fact, all nobles had a direct line of communications to the Divine, but only to their own ancestors and those portions of the dynastic ancestry permitted by their rank. Only the king could sacrifice to the Great Ancestor, as I understand it. Perhaps someone knows of how much 'delegation' of worship was permitted. For instance when someone is employed by the king to sacrifice (as in 46:4), is that a sacrifice as proxy for the king? I don't know enough about oracle bone divination to say what marked the point when nobles below the rank of wang or di could consult. Perhaps someone on the forum can fill us in.

For me the most interesting point in the history of the process was when the archives show the oracle bone divinations becoming uniformly favorable. It's as if ideology had overcome reason and the diviner started to record the same cheery result every 10-day week: Auspicious. I would not be surprised to find that this marked the point when the Shang started to go downhill. When the court becomes yes-men and the wisemen just nod and tell the emperor how well things are going it is inevitable that chaos will ensue.
 

bradford

visitor
Joined
May 30, 2006
Messages
2,626
Reaction score
142
cjgait said:
In another thread, which I am not getting further involved in, the technical subject of fei ren is brought up.
There is a symmetric relation between the xiao ren (small person) and fei ren (lit. 'non-person'). The xiao ren is a yin person in a yang position. The fei ren is a yang person in a yin position. In ancient China, the typical fei ren was a noble captured in battle. Condemned either to a life of ignoble slavery in the household of his enemy or imprisoned and waiting to be ransomed, the fei ren was a leader of his own society who was out of place. This is a very effective image for a yang person in a yin position.
The examples of the xiao ren as a yin person in a yang position are numerous and elaborated in many places in the commentaries.
Sorry-
There's no justification in the Yi's text for these statements. There may be some argument that broken lines on the bottom of the gua are being referred to, but that's about it. Sixes or Eights in Yin or Yang places are statistically irrelevant to the occurrences of Xiao Ren. They are also irrelevant to the meaning of the Zhouyi. Correctness was a dimension not added until the Han.
I just posted my objections to the "egalitarian Zhouyi" on the other thread.
 
J

jesed

Guest
bradford said:
I just posted my objections to the "egalitarian Zhouyi" on the other thread.
Indeed, there is no egalitarian Zhouyi, since the Zhou was a hierarchical society. The same apply to "a-moral Zhouyi", I think. The idea that it was only Confucius and ne-confucionist who put "moral" in the Yi doesn't take in mind that Zhou and Shang was as "moral-religious based" societies as Confucious movement.

Best wishes
 

getojack

visitor
Joined
Jun 13, 1971
Messages
589
Reaction score
2
cjgait said:
For me the most interesting point in the history of the process was when the archives show the oracle bone divinations becoming uniformly favorable. It's as if ideology had overcome reason and the diviner started to record the same cheery result every 10-day week: Auspicious. I would not be surprised to find that this marked the point when the Shang started to go downhill.
Interesting theory. I have no clue if history backs up this assumption or not, though. I rather think that the degeneration of the dynasty had more to do with a rigid class system combined with a brutal theocracy (or should I say 'divinocracy'?) which made major policy decisions based on tortoise shells.

I could be wrong, though.
 
B

bruce_g

Guest
I could give a fig if it's historically accurate or not, if it gives something strong and true to live towards.
 

Sparhawk

One of those your mother warned you about...
Clarity Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 1971
Messages
5,077
Reaction score
32
Chris Gait??

Man, long time no read you!! :) Still in Jersey?

Luis
 

hilary

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
15,363
Reaction score
894
cjgait said:
The xiao ren is a yin person in a yang position. The fei ren is a yang person in a yin position. In ancient China, the typical fei ren was a noble captured in battle. Condemned either to a life of ignoble slavery in the household of his enemy or imprisoned and waiting to be ransomed, the fei ren was a leader of his own society who was out of place. This is a very effective image for a yang person in a yin position.
The examples of the xiao ren as a yin person in a yang position are numerous and elaborated in many places in the commentaries.
Bradford said:
Sorry-
There's no justification in the Yi's text for these statements. There may be some argument that broken lines on the bottom of the gua are being referred to, but that's about it. Sixes or Eights in Yin or Yang places are statistically irrelevant to the occurrences of Xiao Ren. They are also irrelevant to the meaning of the Zhouyi. Correctness was a dimension not added until the Han.
Cue some searching, listing and comparing for me. Meanwhile I hope this debate will continue, as it sounds like there's some information here that could really add depth on the divinatory front. Chris, where does this picture of the noble captured in battle come from? Not just from 8.3 and 12, presumably...?
 

bradford

visitor
Joined
May 30, 2006
Messages
2,626
Reaction score
142
hilary said:
Cue some searching, listing and comparing for me.
Not really sure what that meant. But I did find something interesting on Xiao Ren while checking my facts. There are ten occurrences in the Zhouyi
07.6, Top 9
12.2, 6 2nd
14.3, 9 3rd
20.1, 1st 6
23.6, Top 9
33.4, 6 4th
34.3, 9 3rd
40.5, 6 5th
49.6, Top 6
63.3, 6 3rd
While they are all over the place in terms of 6/9 and odd/even, half of these are
found in the Sovereign Gua of the 12 moons, which, unlike Correctness, seems to have been part of the authors' thinking (come the 8th month, misfortune). It's as though there is a cycle in balancing the common man with the nobility that reflects the relationship between darkness and light throughout the year.
 
B

bruce_g

Guest
bradford said:
It's as though there is a cycle in balancing the common man with the nobility that reflects the relationship between darkness and light throughout the year.
Brad, I like this idea a lot. But the shift can have to do with place and well as with time. That’s what struck about Chris’s first entry here.

There’s a natural balance between high and low or light and dark with regard to time and also place. Someone may be a noble in their own home and yet be a commoner at their job, for example, or vv. J. Campbell makes a humorous reference to what he calls “The stuffed shirt”. This is someone who doesn’t make the shift in his status, regardless of where he is or when. The “executive” comes home from work. The “executive” plays catch with his son. And his lucky wife gets to sleep with an “executive” that night. To him, he is always the noble one.
 

cjgait

visitor
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
276
Reaction score
1
Source for Fei Ren interpretation

hilary said:
Cue some searching, listing and comparing for me. Meanwhile I hope this debate will continue, as it sounds like there's some information here that could really add depth on the divinatory front. Chris, where does this picture of the noble captured in battle come from? Not just from 8.3 and 12, presumably...?
I'm really glad you asked that :) because now I'm wracking my brain trying to recall an exact source. I thought it had been in Keightley's Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China. It isn't. It may have been in his other book on the Shang. Rutt's interpretation, as offenders, is quite good, but isn't exactly the prisoner of war concept I use.

I'm pretty sure that I did read about this in a source based on archeological evidence and Jia Gu Wen materials, but I don't have an exact source I can cite at the moment. I'll post one when my brain works again. I really hope it wasn't in a Chinese source, because none of them have indexes and I could be looking for a long time.
 

hilary

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 8, 1970
Messages
15,363
Reaction score
894
LOL! Always glad to help! :mischief:
 

bradford

visitor
Joined
May 30, 2006
Messages
2,626
Reaction score
142
I first encountered the poor captured devils in Rick Kunst's dissertaion.
 

Clarity,
Office 17622,
PO Box 6945,
London.
W1A 6US
United Kingdom

Phone/ Voicemail:
+44 (0)20 3287 3053 (UK)
+1 (561) 459-4758 (US).

Top