Sunday, June 9, 2013

481: The Yi Ching continued

Let's have a closer look at the Yi Ching today. Behind me you see the table of the 8 trigrams or "Kwa". Apart form some legends there is nothing known about their real origin, but they seem to date back to 3322 BCE.

The ancient kwa-philosophy, as we  may call the system of comprehending things as permutations of the two principles Yang and Yin, plays an important role in the thoughts of the Chinese people.

With its help the origin of the world is explained, rules of conduct are laid down and a forecast of the future is made. 

As to the original meaning of the kwa-philosophy, we have positive evidence of its mathematical character, not only in various suggestions of Chinese traditions, but also and mainly in the nature of the kwa themselves. 

This is a remarkable feature of the Yi Ching, because contrary to, for instance Pythagoras, who associated metaphysical meanings to numbers, the Chinese thinkers didn't do anything with the mathematical depth of the Yi Ching.

The oldest mention of the Book of Permutations is made in the official records of the Chou dynasty, which succeeded the Yin dynasty in 1122 B.C.

One version of the Yi Ching is ascribed to Wen Wang, 1231-1135 BCE.), and his son Cheu Kung (1169-1116 BCE.), while the rest belong to later periods, containing expositions ascribed to Confucius.

In the Yi Ching we find the eight trigrammatic kwa combined into groups of hexagrammatic kwa, resulting in eight times eight or sixty-four permutations, every one of which has its peculiar name and significance.

An explanatory text is added to the sixty-four permutations of the kwa hexagrams, consisting of seven lines. 

The first line, written by Wen Wang,  applies to the hexagram as a whole, and the remaining six, written by Cheu Kung, have reference to the six sundry lines of the hexagram, counting the lowest line as the first and the topmost as the sixth.

The full lines represent yang, Kiu, which means 'nine' and the broken lines represent Yin, Luh, which means "six". In some translations they are referred toas SIX and NINE.

And here we run into one of the many enigmas of the Yi Ching. There is no explanation for the fact that the Yi Ching only uses 64 hexagrams.

One of the arrangements of the hexagrams that are met within all the larger editions of the Yi Ching, consists, as can be seen in the diagram behind me, of a square surrounded by a circle. I displayed this diagram behind me.

In the square the sixty-four permutations of the hexagrams are arranged in the order of what  may be called their natural succession, 

that is to say, on substituting for broken lines zero (o), and for full lines the figure " 1," we can read the hexagrams as a series of numbers from o to 63,., written in the binary system.

Just read the top-left one, six broken lines, so "000000", then next reading from top to bottom "000001", then "000010" and "000011", which is in our decimal system 0, 1, 2, 3. A binary system!

There is another arrangement of the hexagrams. This one is ascribed to Wen Wang, who I mentioned before. The mathematical order is lost, but a new meaning is added: the idea that the one hexagram changes into its counterpart.

Beginning from the right on the bottom line the design exhibits in the even columns the inverse arrangement of the kwa of the odd columns, with this exception, that whenever an inversion would show the same figure, all the Yang lines are replaced by Yin lines, and vice versa.

It stays a mystery to me, why the Chinese philosophy stayed focused on these combinations of lines and their interpretation for centuries.

Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy - Karyn L. Lai, Oxford 2008
Chinese Philosophy, P. Carus, 1902
A Brief History of chinese Philosophy. D.T. Suzuki, 1914

The Discussion

[13:20] herman Bergson: Thank you :-))
[13:20] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:21] Qwark Allen: ,aybe a exemple of someone that traveled back in time
[13:21] Gemma Allen: amazing
[13:21] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:21] Qwark Allen: lol
[13:21] Qwark Allen: indeed
[13:21] Debbie DJ: The concept of the code was way before its time...
[13:21] Bejiita Imako: haha yes maybe they are from the future and made a time machine
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Debbie.....these bars....why these bars....
[13:22] Debbie DJ: This is a number system in its own right.
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: indeed i mean this must be 1000s of years before even the jaquard loom, the worlds first machine using binary codes
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: the predecessor to all computers
[13:22] herman Bergson: ok...ful and broken ..Yin and Yang...
[13:22] herman Bergson: Well let me astonish you...
[13:23] herman Bergson: Next time I"ll tell you that Leibniz himself knew the Yi Ching....
[13:23] Debbie DJ: its just used as 0 and 1 though - the base 2 system. The yin and Yan
[13:23] herman Bergson: That was around 1700!
[13:23] herman Bergson: Brought to Europe by the jesuits
[13:23] Gemma Allen: ah
[13:24] Debbie DJ: the table is confusing - only 8 conditions are coded
[13:24] herman Bergson: From our perspective the Yi Ching is not really philosophy...
[13:24] herman Bergson: tho the texts are on ethics and social ideas
[13:24] herman Bergson: But just imagine....
[13:25] herman Bergson: when you look at the table in front of you....
[13:25] Merlin: I find it difficult to know which things are original and which have been added later
[13:25] herman Bergson: the period named "Renaissance"...
[13:26] herman Bergson: for almost a millennium the Chinese thinkers did nothing else than commenting and interpreting the Yi Ching...
[13:26] herman Bergson: Around 1650 in Europe evolved the scientific mind and method....
[13:26] Debbie DJ: That begs the question - where did it come from?
[13:26] herman Bergson: That never happened in china
[13:27] Merlin: Which millennium do you mean Herman?
[13:27] Merlin: I am thinking about the burning of the books
[13:27] herman Bergson: from 960 to 1900 Merlin
[13:27] Merlin: oh, recently then ... OK
[13:28] herman Bergson: What I try to do here is to understand Chinese philosophy....
[13:28] Gemma Allen: it is definitely different
[13:28] herman Bergson: and it fills me with amazement....
[13:28] herman Bergson: yes Gemma....that might even be an understatement
[13:28] Gemma Allen: it takes a whole different way of trying to think about it
[13:28] herman Bergson: But there may be some clue....
[13:29] herman Bergson: philosophy is not something that floats around in thin air through the ages....
[13:29] herman Bergson: it is part of society....
[13:29] herman Bergson: so maybe there is an explanation for the differences from a social historical perspective
[13:30] Debbie DJ: The universe is a very random event from our perspective. Re-arranging molecules, or living harmoniously are only aspects of civilization.
[13:30] herman Bergson: the extreme conservatism of the Chinese....for instance
[13:30] herman Bergson: That is the point Debbie....the randomness.....
[13:30] herman Bergson: but yet too..the differences where it leads to
[13:31] Debbie DJ: I think of us as a collection of bugs spinning wildly in a backwater of space ;)
[13:31] Gemma Allen: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: hehehe
[13:31] herman Bergson: If evolution is just a random process.....could we say ..scientifically Europe happened to struck gold while China stayed asleep?
[13:31] herman Bergson: and then I am talking about 1600 -1800 period
[13:31] Debbie DJ: Is it gold? we face resource depletion, and cancer?
[13:32] AbinoamAbinoam nods
[13:32] herman Bergson: Wait Debbie.....
[13:32] Debbie DJ: ;)
[13:32] herman Bergson: Here we must be accurate....
[13:32] Lizzy Pleides: and many positive things too debbie
[13:32] Merlin: I dont think Cancer is because of modernity, it is evident because we live longer
[13:32] herman Bergson: I am NOT talking about economics....Did that three projects long already :-)
[13:32] Abinoam: Western epistemology may be all wrong, anyway. Who's to say the West has been awake?
[13:33] herman Bergson: I talk about the increase of human knowledge about his reality
[13:33] herman Bergson: Well Abinoam....
[13:33] herman Bergson: the answer could be...
[13:33] Debbie DJ: There I must concur herman
[13:33] herman Bergson: if survival of the fittest is the rule...
[13:34] herman Bergson: then the one who developed a cure and medicine for many diseases is the fittest....
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:34] herman Bergson: which is the result if the increase of human knowledge about his world
[13:34] herman Bergson: which is the result of our epistemological approach of reality
[13:34] Debbie DJ: Survivial in the LONG TERM.... dinosaurs did 600 million years. Were 100000 years old only
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: interesting thought, Herman
[13:35] herman Bergson: The Dinos died because of major natural disasters....we can easily too...
[13:35] Gemma Allen: true
[13:35] Debbie DJ: and we've burned half the fuel already...
[13:35] Abinoam: China had paper, silk and gunpowder long before Europe. And Chinese traditional medicine is said to be doing wonders. I'm not sure there's evidence Europe is the fittest compared to other civilizations.
[13:35] Qwark Allen: ehehehe, or maybe not
[13:36] Abinoam: It's just... different, I guess.
[13:36] Gemma Allen: in their own way of thinking they have accomplished a lot
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: ├┐es so true
[13:36] herman Bergson: there is no problem in accepting that others are in some respect equally fit, Abinoam....
[13:36] Gemma Allen: the great wall is an example
[13:36] Gemma Allen: an amazing feat
[13:36] herman Bergson: we don't own all wisdom in this world...
[13:36] Debbie DJ: Philosophically speaking - there is no one correct way of behaving as a society
[13:37] AbinoamAbinoam nods
[13:37] herman Bergson: but the knowledge we have developed isn't bad
[13:37] Abinoam: I agree with that, yes.
[13:37] Bejiita Imako:
[13:37] herman Bergson: Well Debbie....
[13:37] herman Bergson: we discussed that before....
[13:37] herman Bergson: when I pointed at societies that never use violence, never go at war...
[13:38] Debbie DJ: well, remind me?
[13:38] Debbie DJ: yes.
[13:38] herman Bergson: I'd say that such societies are preferable to all humans
[13:38] Debbie DJ: so - is our method - scientific analysis - able to ensure a good life sustainebly?
[13:39] herman Bergson: that is an interesting question.....
[13:39] Debbie DJ:  ✧✩**✩✧ G I G G L E S ✧✩**
[13:39] Debbie DJ: It keeps me awake...
[13:39] herman Bergson: I don't think the solution will come from science...
[13:39] herman Bergson: unless you mean we all need to use valium :-)
[13:40] Gemma Allen: not strong enough
[13:40] herman Bergson smiles
[13:40] Bejiita Imako:
[13:40] Debbie DJ: hah hah. I hope that eastern philosophy may shed some light on balance, not hectic consumerism.
[13:40] .: Beertje :.: to begin with it will do
[13:40] herman Bergson: The solution must come from how we use our brain, I think...
[[13:41] herman Bergson: A better understanding of the dynamics of that machine
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: or to put it in an historical perspective...
[13:41] herman Bergson: Aristotle already knew....
[13:41] herman Bergson: virtue....
[13:41] herman Bergson: we should learn and focus on our virtues :-)
[13:42] Abinoam: yes!
[13:42] herman Bergson: justice, honesty and so on
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: indeed we need more of that
[13:42] herman Bergson: this means education....
[13:42] Debbie DJ: Fairness, a principle of sharing things...
[13:43] herman Bergson: A lot of sh•t in this world is the result of lack of education....
[13:43] herman Bergson: exactly Debbie
[13:43] herman Bergson: Like in the Middel Ages....
[13:43] Debbie DJ: lack of, and mis - education ;)
[13:43] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:43] Gemma Allen: it still is
[13:43] herman Bergson: the illiterate masses were easily aroused to burn a witch or going on  a crusade...
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: education is important indeed so that people really know how things really are and work
[13:44] herman Bergson: But not education to get a job to earn as much money as you can...
[13:44] herman Bergson: not that kind of education
[13:44] Debbie DJ: A major source of current mis-education is irresponsible commercial advertising.
[13:45] herman Bergson: yes Debbie....consumerism...
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:45] Debbie DJ: So, as consumers of education - we do need to beware ;)
[13:45] herman Bergson: Education to learn to see the Beauty and the Good in life
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: making us buy lot of stuff as soon new things come out even we have already working things of same type
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: or other stuff we really don't need at all
[13:45] herman Bergson: But...people...this is far away from our subject...:-)
[13:45] Debbie DJ: exactly Bejiita
[13:46] herman Bergson: Chinese philosophy
[13:46] herman Bergson: Point is...those Chinese were very well least the leading class
[13:46] Qwark Allen: eheheh they are the new consumers now
[13:46] Debbie DJ: It is interesting to compare though...
[13:46] herman Bergson: just like in Europe
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: of course only the leading class
[13:46] herman Bergson: Looking at the meaning of the Yi Ching for them.....
[13:47] Debbie DJ: That was true in Europe - only the leading class.
[13:47] herman Bergson: one way or another it didn't ignite the flame of Enlightenment like happened in Europe
[13:47] Debbie DJ: Maybe they were too relaxed?
[13:47] Debbie DJ: life was too good.
[13:48] Gemma Allen: or the opposite too hard
[13:48] herman Bergson: I really would read about an explanation for that Debbie...
[13:48] herman Bergson: for yes they had gunpowder..
[13:48] herman Bergson: and yes they used it for firearms...
[13:48] herman Bergson: they were not stupid....
[13:48] Abinoam: Did they have anything comparable to witch hunts and that sort of madness? Maybe they didn't need the sort of enlightenment Europe did?
[13:49] Debbie DJ: what would be interesting is to compare the european dark ages to what china was doing ...
[13:49] Abinoam: Yes
[13:49] herman Bergson: I dont know Abinoam....but witches....interesting...maybe we'll find something like that in literature....
[13:49] herman Bergson: but I doubt it...
[13:50] Lizzy Pleides: we have to confess that european culture and education is still an example in the world today
[13:50] herman Bergson: There is no need for any Enlightenment.....but where it happened in this world, it had major consequences :-)
[13:51] Debbie DJ: the time scale issue is one that is hard to grasp.
[13:51] herman Bergson: Well Lizzy....
[13:51] herman Bergson: the basic ideas that everyone should be able to read and write and learn other languages...yes I agree with you
[13:52] herman Bergson: and based on what one reads learn to shape a personal opinion about things as phase 2
[13:52] herman Bergson: and have the freedom of that opinion...!
[13:52] Lizzy Pleides: true
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: aha
[13:52] Debbie DJ: The western freedoms are indeed great.
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: :
[13:52] Bejiita Imako:
[13:52] AbinoamAbinoam nods
[13:53] Debbie DJ: But there is much to still learn.
[13:53] herman Bergson: Well... along way to go still....
[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: that doesn't mean that the western way is the best for the whole world and all cultures
[13:53] herman Bergson: Thank you all for your participation again....
[13:53] Gemma Allen: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:53] Debbie DJ:  :**:. .:**:. .:* APPLAUSE!!! *:. .:**:. .:**:.
[13:53] Debbie DJ:                      ¸. *´¨)     F*ckn Awesome!
[13:53] Debbie DJ:             ¸. ´ ¸. *´¨) ¸. *´) ¸. *¨) ¸. *¨)
[13:53] Debbie DJ:             (¸. ´ *(¸. ´ *(¸. ´ *(¸. ´ *(¸..
[13:53] Debbie DJ:    Applause! «´·.¸¸.•.¸¸ YAY¸¸.•.¸¸.·`» Applause!
[[13:53] Lizzy Pleides: thank you!
[13:53] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:53] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman
[13:54] Gemma Allen: see you next week
[13:54] herman Bergson: behind me those three doors...
[13:54] Debbie DJ: thanks herman ;)

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