Robin R. Wang Introduction As Derk Bodde correctly has stated, ``The theory of yin and yang, the five elements, and their correlates, has for more than two thousand years been the basis for Chinese medicine, alchemy, astronomy, and naturalistic speculation generally.''1 However the yinyang theory provides not only a conceptual basis for Chinese natural science but also a theoretical foundation, within NeoConfucian moral philosophy, for its teachings on self-cultivation. One of the key points at which the link between Chinese natural philosophy and ethics can be observed is in the work of Zhou Dunyi (Chou Tun-i, 101773 CE). Zhou Dunyi, the forerunner of Neo-Confucianism and founder of Daoxue in the Song dynasty, published a diagram of the Supreme Ultimate (taijitu) and wrote a concise 256-word philosophical account of it (taijitu shuo). Zhou's groundbreaking effort sets the parameters in which the yinyang theory was to be assimilated metaphysically and systematically into Confucian thought and practice. By presenting Zhou Dunyi's diagram and the full translation of his taijitu shuo, this essay will call attention to Zhou's thought and seek to understand it on its own merits. The justification for a fresh look at Zhou Dunyi's original endeavor will become apparent
Journal of the History of Ideas – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Oct 24, 2005
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