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Thread: Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing

  1. #11


    kWhat is the title of the SMith work on the Han?

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 1971
    Square Root of New Jersey


    Quote Originally Posted by midaughter View Post
    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"

  3. #13


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

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 1971
    Square Root of New Jersey


    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)

  5. #15


    Lazy me, the title was in the first posting. A created a tinyurl to the page:


  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 1973
    London UK


    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?


  7. #17

    Default 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
    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. -
    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

    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
    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

  8. #18


    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.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to tacrab For This Useful Post:

    charly (December 25th, 2017)

  10. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 1972
    Saint Charles, Missouri


    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.

  11. #20
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Buenos Aires, Argentina


    To those for whom books are now little affordable:

    Richard J. Smith

    His page in Rice University:

    Page with links to documents available in pdf about I Ching:

    All the best,


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