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

Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I-Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its... Insum,thethematicorganizationofthebookobscurestheshiftsfromantiquity tomodernity.Byelidingholinessintosurvivalandcontinuingtoasserta"superiority" withoutclearlydistinguishingthetheological,political,andhistoricaldevelopments of this idea, the logic of universal/particular is presumed to be a static dichotomy withinherenthierarchicalvalue.Istheuniversalityofhumanityreallytheu iversality n ofJudaism?Istheself-definitionofapeopleasaparticularityanassertionofhierarchy?Whatabout"survival"aspolitical?Theological?Withoutclarifyingsuchquestionsweareleftwithalimitedviewoftheideaofelection.The"self-definition"of electionisneverclarified,asnoseriousinterrogationofthe"self"iseveroffered. OnesuggestionIcanofferisthatmanyofthesequestionscanbebettera dressed d inreturningtothefirstpartofGürkan'sstudyandreconsideringtheRabbinicmaterial:dotherabbisidentifythepeopleofIsraelastheauthorsofthiselection?Ordoes thelogicofthis"choice"appeartopointtowardadifferentmeaningofparticularity? Thatis,ifapeopleischosen,doesthisnotimplicatethe"identity"ofthechosenas responsive?TheJewishpeople,asrecipientsofelection heelected ouldthus --t --w identifytheirparticularityasonethatisincomparabletoachoicemadeintime.As theauthorfirstnoted,theRabbinicconceptionofthe"eternality"ofelectionimplies a time before creation in which "choice" is not grounded in options. Hence, the meaningofparticularityfortherabbis,byfocusingontheaccusativepositionofIsrael asthe"chosen,"beliestheauthor'sattempttoimposethemodern"self-definition"of "`choosing'ratherthan`beingchosen'"(p.48)ontotheRabbinicperiod.Insum,this wouldbeliethetrajectoryofcontinuitythatGürkantriestoderivefromthehistoryof thisidea hatJewishparticularityhasalwaysbeenofahierarchicaln ture. --t a Gürkan'sbookiscertainlyanachievementinattemptingtorepresentasurveyof theconceptofchosenness.Sheprovidesaclearexegeticalprogramforpresenting thehistoryofanidea.Itisthereforeausefulcompendiumofhistoricaldiscussionsof theconceptofthe"chosenpeople."Whateverflawsitexhibitsdonotdecreasethe valueofthisstudy.ParticularlyhelpfulareGürkan'sreflectionsonhowtheveryidea ofelectioncontainstherootsofitsperennialplaceinJewishthought.TheRabbinic idea continues to be retrieved and discussed in philosophical contexts, for which Gürkanprovidesusablueprint.SheoffersstudentsofJudaismacomprehensiveoutlineofhistoricaltheoriesofthisparticularlythornyandeternallydivisivetheological, philosophical,andhistoricalidea,namelytheparticularityofa"chosenpeople." Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I-Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China.ByRichardJ.Smith.Charlottesville:University ofVirginiaPress,2008.Pp.xix+393.Hardcover$35.00. ReviewedbyTze-ki Hon StateUniversityofNewYorkatGeneseo ThestudyoftheYijing(I Ching,orBook of Changes)hasundergoneaparadigmatic changeoverthelasttwodecades.RatherthanviewingtheYijing asareveredclassic containing a timeless wisdom, scholars now consider the Yijing an open text that evolvesovertimethroughredaction,canonization,andexegeses.1Underlyingthis PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number1January2012144­146 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress newapproachisthenotionthattheYijingismultidimensional.Itism ltidimensional, u firstandforemost,initstextualbody,whichconsistsofvisualimages(thetrigrams andhexagrams),writtendocuments(thehexagramandlinestatements),andearly commentarialmaterials(the"TenWings").Second,itismultidimensionalinitsreception,whichhasproducedhundredsofcommentariespreservedintheConfucian, Daoist,andBuddhistcanons. AkeyplayerinthisparadigmaticchangeisRichardJ.Smith.In1991,hepublishedFortune-Tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society, in whichhedemonstratedthemultiplicityoftheYijinginthelocalpracticesofdivinationandgeomancyduringtheQingperiod(1644­1911).Inhisnewbook,Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing(IChing,orClassicofChanges) and Its Evolution in China,heagainhighlightsthemultiplicityoftheYijingbyexploringitsmanifoldmanifestationsinhistory.Althoughsharingthesamegoal,thenew bookismarkedlydifferentfromtheearlieroneinscopeandscale.RatherthanfocusingontheQingperiod,itcoverstheentiretyofChinesehistory,fromthebeginning tothepresent.Insteadoflimitinganalysistothemanticpractices,itincludesallsorts ofactivityrangingfromalchemyandthecalendartomathematicsandmetaphysics. Inshort,inthenewbookSmithoffers"abiographyoftheYijing"(p.xi). Indemonstratingthat"thereareasmanyversionsoftheChanges asthereare readersofthedocumentsandcommentatorsuponit"(p.1),Smithmakesthreesignificantcontributions.First,indatingthesourcesofthereceivedtext(chapter1)and its canonization as a Confucian classic (chapter 2), Smith skillfully utilizes recent archaeologicaldiscoveriestoshowthattherewerealternativetraditionsbesidesthe ConfucianYijing orthodoxy.Insodoing,Smithcomplicatesthepictureofhowthe earlyYijing (alsoknownastheZhouyi)wastransformedfromamanualofdivination intoanethicalandphilosophicaltreatise.Aptlyandfairly,SmitharguesthattheexistenceofalternativeversionsdidnotdiminishtheauthorityofthecanonizedYijing. Instead,thesedifferentversions(includingthesilkmanuscriptfoundinMawangdui) show that "the received version of the Changes represents a careful selection of v rioustextsandinterpretativeapproachesdrawnfromthesedivergentworksand a traditions"(p.56). Second,inhisaccountofthehistoryofYijing commentaries(chapters3­7)Smith http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Philosophy East and West University of Hawai'I Press

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

Philosophy East and West , Volume 62 (1) – Jan 1, 2012

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Abstract

Insum,thethematicorganizationofthebookobscurestheshiftsfromantiquity tomodernity.Byelidingholinessintosurvivalandcontinuingtoasserta"superiority" withoutclearlydistinguishingthetheological,political,andhistoricaldevelopments of this idea, the logic of universal/particular is presumed to be a static dichotomy withinherenthierarchicalvalue.Istheuniversalityofhumanityreallytheu iversality n ofJudaism?Istheself-definitionofapeopleasaparticularityanassertionofhierarchy?Whatabout"survival"aspolitical?Theological?Withoutclarifyingsuchquestionsweareleftwithalimitedviewoftheideaofelection.The"self-definition"of electionisneverclarified,asnoseriousinterrogationofthe"self"iseveroffered. OnesuggestionIcanofferisthatmanyofthesequestionscanbebettera dressed d inreturningtothefirstpartofGürkan'sstudyandreconsideringtheRabbinicmaterial:dotherabbisidentifythepeopleofIsraelastheauthorsofthiselection?Ordoes thelogicofthis"choice"appeartopointtowardadifferentmeaningofparticularity? Thatis,ifapeopleischosen,doesthisnotimplicatethe"identity"ofthechosenas responsive?TheJewishpeople,asrecipientsofelection heelected ouldthus --t --w identifytheirparticularityasonethatisincomparabletoachoicemadeintime.As theauthorfirstnoted,theRabbinicconceptionofthe"eternality"ofelectionimplies a time before creation in which "choice" is not grounded in options. Hence, the meaningofparticularityfortherabbis,byfocusingontheaccusativepositionofIsrael asthe"chosen,"beliestheauthor'sattempttoimposethemodern"self-definition"of "`choosing'ratherthan`beingchosen'"(p.48)ontotheRabbinicperiod.Insum,this wouldbeliethetrajectoryofcontinuitythatGürkantriestoderivefromthehistoryof thisidea hatJewishparticularityhasalwaysbeenofahierarchicaln ture. --t a Gürkan'sbookiscertainlyanachievementinattemptingtorepresentasurveyof theconceptofchosenness.Sheprovidesaclearexegeticalprogramforpresenting thehistoryofanidea.Itisthereforeausefulcompendiumofhistoricaldiscussionsof theconceptofthe"chosenpeople."Whateverflawsitexhibitsdonotdecreasethe valueofthisstudy.ParticularlyhelpfulareGürkan'sreflectionsonhowtheveryidea ofelectioncontainstherootsofitsperennialplaceinJewishthought.TheRabbinic idea continues to be retrieved and discussed in philosophical contexts, for which Gürkanprovidesusablueprint.SheoffersstudentsofJudaismacomprehensiveoutlineofhistoricaltheoriesofthisparticularlythornyandeternallydivisivetheological, philosophical,andhistoricalidea,namelytheparticularityofa"chosenpeople." Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I-Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China.ByRichardJ.Smith.Charlottesville:University ofVirginiaPress,2008.Pp.xix+393.Hardcover$35.00. ReviewedbyTze-ki Hon StateUniversityofNewYorkatGeneseo ThestudyoftheYijing(I Ching,orBook of Changes)hasundergoneaparadigmatic changeoverthelasttwodecades.RatherthanviewingtheYijing asareveredclassic containing a timeless wisdom, scholars now consider the Yijing an open text that evolvesovertimethroughredaction,canonization,andexegeses.1Underlyingthis PhilosophyEast&WestVolume62,Number1January2012144­146 ©2012byUniversityofHawai`iPress newapproachisthenotionthattheYijingismultidimensional.Itism ltidimensional, u firstandforemost,initstextualbody,whichconsistsofvisualimages(thetrigrams andhexagrams),writtendocuments(thehexagramandlinestatements),andearly commentarialmaterials(the"TenWings").Second,itismultidimensionalinitsreception,whichhasproducedhundredsofcommentariespreservedintheConfucian, Daoist,andBuddhistcanons. AkeyplayerinthisparadigmaticchangeisRichardJ.Smith.In1991,hepublishedFortune-Tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society, in whichhedemonstratedthemultiplicityoftheYijinginthelocalpracticesofdivinationandgeomancyduringtheQingperiod(1644­1911).Inhisnewbook,Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing(IChing,orClassicofChanges) and Its Evolution in China,heagainhighlightsthemultiplicityoftheYijingbyexploringitsmanifoldmanifestationsinhistory.Althoughsharingthesamegoal,thenew bookismarkedlydifferentfromtheearlieroneinscopeandscale.RatherthanfocusingontheQingperiod,itcoverstheentiretyofChinesehistory,fromthebeginning tothepresent.Insteadoflimitinganalysistothemanticpractices,itincludesallsorts ofactivityrangingfromalchemyandthecalendartomathematicsandmetaphysics. Inshort,inthenewbookSmithoffers"abiographyoftheYijing"(p.xi). Indemonstratingthat"thereareasmanyversionsoftheChanges asthereare readersofthedocumentsandcommentatorsuponit"(p.1),Smithmakesthreesignificantcontributions.First,indatingthesourcesofthereceivedtext(chapter1)and its canonization as a Confucian classic (chapter 2), Smith skillfully utilizes recent archaeologicaldiscoveriestoshowthattherewerealternativetraditionsbesidesthe ConfucianYijing orthodoxy.Insodoing,Smithcomplicatesthepictureofhowthe earlyYijing (alsoknownastheZhouyi)wastransformedfromamanualofdivination intoanethicalandphilosophicaltreatise.Aptlyandfairly,SmitharguesthattheexistenceofalternativeversionsdidnotdiminishtheauthorityofthecanonizedYijing. Instead,thesedifferentversions(includingthesilkmanuscriptfoundinMawangdui) show that "the received version of the Changes represents a careful selection of v rioustextsandinterpretativeapproachesdrawnfromthesedivergentworksand a traditions"(p.56). Second,inhisaccountofthehistoryofYijing commentaries(chapters3­7)Smith

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Philosophy East and WestUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 1, 2012

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