14 Facts About I Ching


Originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou period, the I Ching was transformed over the course of the Warring States and early imperial periods into a cosmological text with a series of philosophical commentaries known as the "Ten Wings".

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The interpretation of the readings found in the I Ching has been endlessly discussed and debated over the centuries.

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Core of the I Ching is a Western Zhou divination text called the Changes of Zhou .

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The canonized I Ching became the standard text for over two thousand years, until alternate versions of the Zhou yi and related texts were discovered in the 20th century.

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The inclusion of the Ten Wings reflects a widespread recognition in ancient China, found in the Zuo zhuan and other pre-Han texts, that the I Ching was a rich moral and symbolic document useful for more than professional divination.

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The I Ching was not included in the burning of the Confucian classics, and textual evidence strongly suggests that Confucius did not consider the Zhou yi a "classic".

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The most influential writer of this period was Wang Bi, who discarded the numerology of Han commentators and integrated the philosophy of the Ten Wings directly into the central text of the I Ching, creating such a persuasive narrative that Han commentators were no longer considered significant.

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Zhu Xi's reconstruction of I Ching yarrow stalk divination, based in part on the Great Commentary account, became the standard form and is still in use today.

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In 1557, the Korean Neo-Confucianist philosopher Yi Hwang produced one of the most influential I Ching studies of the early modern era, claiming that the spirit was a principle and not a material force .

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In medieval Japan, secret teachings on the I Ching—known in Japanese as the Eki Kyo—were publicized by Rinzai Zen master Kokan Shiren and the Shintoist Yoshida Kanetomo during the Kamakura era.

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Many writers attempted to use the I Ching to explain Western science in a Japanese framework.

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The usage of binary in relation to the I Ching was central to Leibniz's characteristica universalis, or universal language, which in turn inspired the standards of Boolean logic and for Gottlob Frege to develop predicate logic in the late 19th century.

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The Sinologist Joseph Needham took the opposite opinion, arguing that the I Ching had actually impeded scientific development by incorporating all physical knowledge into its metaphysics.

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The earliest published complete translation of the I Ching into a Western language was a Latin translation done in the 1730s by the French Jesuit missionary Jean-Baptiste Regis that was published in Germany in the 1830s.

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