School of Naturalists

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Birth places of notable Chinese philosophers from Hundred Schools of Thought in Zhou Dynasty. Philosophers of Naturalist are marked by circles in yellow. Birth Places of Chinese Philosophers.png
Birth places of notable Chinese philosophers from Hundred Schools of Thought in Zhou Dynasty. Philosophers of Naturalist are marked by circles in yellow.

The School of Naturalists or the School of Yin-yang (陰陽家/阴阳家; Yīnyángjiā; Yin-yang-chia; "School of Yin-Yang") was a Warring States-era philosophy that synthesized the concepts of yin-yang and the Five Elements.

Contents

Overview

Zou Yan is considered the founder of this school. [1] His theory attempted to explain the universe in terms of basic forces in nature: the complementary agents of yin (dark, cold, female, negative) and yang (light, hot, male, positive) and the Five Elements or Five Phases (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth). In its early days, this theory was most strongly associated with the states of Yan and Qi. In later periods, these epistemological theories came to hold significance in both philosophy and popular belief. This school was absorbed into the alchemic and magical dimensions of Taoism as well as into the Chinese medical framework. The earliest surviving recordings of this are in the Ma Wang Dui texts and Huang Di Nei Jing.

Zou Yan was an ancient Chinese philosopher best known as the representative thinker of the Yin and Yang School during the Hundred Schools of Thought era in Chinese philosophy.

Yan (state) ancient Chinese state during Zhao dynasty

Yan was an ancient Chinese state during the Zhou dynasty. Its capital was Ji. During the Warring States period, the court was also moved to another capital at Xiadu at times.

Qi (state) ancient Chinese state during the Zhou dynasty of ancient China

Qi was a state of the Zhou dynasty-era in ancient China, variously reckoned as a march, duchy, and independent kingdom. Its capital was Yingqiu, located within present-day Linzi in Shandong.

Figures

Zou Yan (Chinese :鄒衍; 305 240 BC) was an ancient Chinese philosopher best known as the representative thinker of the Yin and Yang School (or School of Naturalists) during the Hundred Schools of Thought era in Chinese philosophy. Zou Yan was a noted scholar of the Jixia Academy in the state of Qi. Joseph Needham, a British sinologist, describes Zou as "The real founder of all Chinese scientific thought."[ citation needed ] His teachings combined and systematized two current theories during the Warring States period: Yin-Yang and the Five Elements/Phases (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water).

Traditional Chinese characters Traditional Chinese characters

Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.

Hundred Schools of Thought philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 BCE, during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China

The Hundred Schools of Thought were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century to 221 B.C. during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China.

Chinese philosophy philosophy in the Chinese cultural sphere

Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and cultural developments. Although much of Chinese philosophy begins in the Warring States period, elements of Chinese philosophy have existed for several thousand years; some can be found in the Yi Jing, an ancient compendium of divination, which dates back to at least 672 BCE. It was during the Warring States era that what Sima Tan termed the major philosophical schools of China: Confucianism, Legalism, and Taoism, arose, along with philosophies that later fell into obscurity, like Agriculturalism, Mohism, Chinese Naturalism, and the Logicians.

During the Han dynasty, the concepts of the school were integrated into Confucian ideology, Zhang Cang (253-152 BCE) and Dong Zhongshu (179-104 BCE) being the chief instrumental figures behind this process.

Zhang Cang 張蒼 was the representative thinker of the Yin-Yang School, as well as a Confucian scholar, general, and prime-minister under Liu Bang. Evidence on his life is contained in the Book of Han and some later sources.

Dong Zhongshu was a Han Dynasty Chinese scholar. He is traditionally associated with the promotion of Confucianism as the official ideology of the Chinese imperial state. He apparently favored heaven worship over the tradition of cults celebrating the five elements. Ultimately banished to the Chancellery of Weifang by his adversary Gongsun Hong, Gongsun effectively promoted Dong's partial retirement from political life, and his teachings were transmitted from there. However, he apparently enjoyed great influence in the court in last decades of his life leading up to that.

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This page lists some links to ancient philosophy. In Western philosophy, the spread of Christianity in the Roman Empire marked the ending of Hellenistic philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of Medieval philosophy, whereas in Eastern philosophy, the spread of Islam through the Arab Empire marked the end of Old Iranian philosophy and ushered in the beginnings of early Islamic philosophy.

Classical element concepts in Ancient Greece

Classical elements typically refer to the concepts, rejected by modern science, in ancient Greece of earth, water, air, fire, and (later) aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances. Ancient cultures in Greece, Babylonia, Japan, Tibet, and India had similar lists, sometimes referring in local languages to "air" as "wind" and the fifth element as "void". The Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material.

Air is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and in Western alchemy.

<i>Wu Xing</i> Chinese five elements

The Wu Xing, also known as the Five Elements, Five Phases, the Five Agents, the Five Movements, Five Processes, the Five Steps/Stages and the Five Planets of significant gravity is the short form of "Wǔ zhǒng liúxíng zhī qì" (五種流行之氣) or "the five types of chi dominating at different times". It is a fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs. The "Five Phases" are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This order of presentation is known as the "mutual generation" sequence. In the order of "mutual overcoming", they are Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal.

Yin and yang philosophical concept

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In Chinese cosmology, the universe creates itself out of a primary chaos of material energy, organized into the cycles of Yin and Yang and formed into objects and lives. Yin is the receptive and Yang the active principle, seen in all forms of change and difference such as the annual cycle, the landscape, sexual coupling, the formation of both men and women as characters, and sociopolitical history.

Chinese astrology

Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty.

Taiji (philosophy) principle of supreme potential in Chinese philosophy

Taiji is a Chinese cosmological term for the "Supreme Ultimate" state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potential, the oneness before duality, from which Yin and Yang originate, can be compared with the old Wuji.

In Chinese philosophy, wood, sometimes translated as Tree, is the growing of the matter, or the matter's growing stage. Wood is the first phase of Wu Xing. Wood is the most yang in character of the Five elements. It stands for springtime, the east, the planet Jupiter, the color green, windy weather, and the Azure Dragon in Four Symbols. The color blue also represents wood.

The zàng-fǔ organs are functional entities stipulated by Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They constitute the centre piece of TCM's general concept of how the human body works. The term zàng (脏) refers to the organs considered to be yin in nature – Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lung, Kidney – while fǔ (腑) refers to the yang organs – Small Intestine, Large Intestine, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder, Stomach and Sānjiaō.

Metal, the fourth phase of the Chinese philosophy of Wu Xing, is the decline of the matter, or the matter's decline stage. Metal is yin in character, its motion is inwards and its energy is contracting. It is associated with the autumn, the west, old age, the planet Venus, the color white, dry weather, and the White Tiger in Four Symbols. The archetypal metals are silver and gold.

Bagua eight trigrams used in Taoist cosmology

The Bagua or Pa Kua are eight symbols used in Taoist cosmology to represent the fundamental principles of reality, seen as a range of eight interrelated concepts. Each consists of three lines, each line either "broken" or "unbroken", respectively representing yin or yang. Due to their tripartite structure, they are often referred to as Eight Trigrams in English.

Wújí originally meant "ultimate" but came to mean the "primordial universe" prior to the Taiji 太極 "Supreme Ultimate" in Song Dynasty Neo-Confucianist cosmology. Wuji is also a proper noun in Modern Standard Chinese usage; for instance, Wuji County in Hebei.

In Chinese philosophy, fire is the prosper of the matter, or the matter's prosperity stage. Fire is the second phase of Wu Xing.

In Chinese philosophy, earth, is the changing point of the matter. Earth is the third element in the Wu Xing cycle.

In Chinese philosophy, water, is the low point of the matter, or the matter's dying or hiding stage. Water is the fifth stage of Wu Xing, the five elements.

Wen Wang Gua is a method of interpreting the results of I Ching divination that was first described in writing by Jing Fang in Han dynasty China. It is based on correlating trigrams to the Celestial Stems and Earthly Branches of the Chinese calendar, and then using the stem and branch elements to interpret the lines of the trigrams and hexagrams of the I Ching. The method is popular in South East Asia. It is known by various names: refers to the fact that it interprets the meaning of six symbols; the Najia method, indicates its logic of elemental values derived from the Chinese calendar; Wu Xing Yi ; or Wen Wang Ke.

References

  1. "Zou Yan". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 1 March 2011.