The World-Conception of the Chinese: Their Astronomical, Cosmological and Physico-Philosophical Speculations

By Alfred Forke | Go to book overview

BOOK III. YIN AND YANG.

A. ANCIENT TIMES.

I. THE OLDEST SOURCES.

WE have already become acquainted with the main features of the theory of the primary elements, Yin and Yang, of which the universe is believed to be formed. Now the question arises from what time this theory dates, and how far back into antiquity we are able to trace it. The oldest texts in which we find references are the Shiking, the Chou-li, and the Tso-chuan.

In the Kung-liu Ode of the Shiking it is said of the Duke of Lu: "He examined the Yin and the Yang"(a). The commentators and Legge take this to mean "light and shade." This does not give a good sense, for there is no question of fields, to which light and shade are said to refer, nor does one see why the prince should examine the sunny and shady sides of fields. Yin and Yang must here refer to the primogenial forces of nature, by which the sovereign, as well as the sage, have to order their activities, taking them as their model, and in turn regulating them themselves, as we shall see later. Just so the oncirocritics in the Chou-li would observe the Yin and Yang fluids, the handle of the "Bushel" showing them the temporary seat of the Yang in the sky, and the position of the sun indicat-

____________________
(a)
Shiking II., 488. .

-163-

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The World-Conception of the Chinese: Their Astronomical, Cosmological and Physico-Philosophical Speculations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction. v
  • Contents ix
  • Book I. the Universe 1
  • A. Ancient Times. 3
  • B. Modern Times. 101
  • Book Ii. Heaven. 131
  • B. Religious-Philosophical Viewpoint. 133
  • B. Religious-Philosophical Viewpoint. 147
  • Book Iii. Yin and Yang. 161
  • A. Ancient Times. 163
  • B. Modern Times. 200
  • Book Iv. the Five Elements. 225
  • By the Same Author. i
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