Research Project


Divination as Moral Philosophy: Hexagrams and the Genealogy of the Sages of the Yijing

Prof. Dr. Tze-ki Hon

To understand how divination and moral philosophy are linked in the Confucian tradition, my research focuses on the founding of the "Song School of Yijing commentaries" (Song Yi 宋易 ). From its rise to prominence in the Northern Song (960-1127) through its codification and canonization in the early Ming (ca. 1415) to its decline and fall in the mid-Qing (ca. 1750), the Song School defined the textual body of the Yijing, established the parameters for its interpretation, and facilitated its circulation among the educated elite. During my stay at Erlangen, I will trace the founding of the Song School by comparing its two foundational texts: Dong Kai ′s 董楷 Zhouyi zhuanyi fulu 周易傳義附錄 (Emanations on the Yichuan yizhuan and the Zhouyi benyi) and Dong Zhenqing′s 董真卿 Zhouyi huitong 周易會通 (A Comprehensive and Impartial Study of the Changes of the Zhou Dynasty). Written in the late 13th and mid-14th century respectively, the two texts were aimed at synthesizing Cheng Yi′s and Zhu Xi′s commentaries, and were later incorporated into the Ming official commentary Zhouyi daquan 周易大全 (The Compendium of Cheng Yi′s and Zhu Xi′s Commentaries on the Changes of the Zhou Dynasty, 1415). More importantly, the two texts were instrumental in authenticating a "genealogy of the Yijing authors" that included "the four sages" (sisheng 四聖 ) - Fu Xi, King Wen, the Duke of Zhou, and Confucius - who created the Yijing as a fusion of divination and moral philosophy. The two texts also enshrined Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi as "the two virtuous persons" (erxian 二賢 ) who recovered the original meaning of the Yijing after it had been lost for thousands of years.

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