Yang and Yin
This article is excerpted from Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, by John G. Blair and Jerusha McCormack (2003), Fudan University Press.
Etymologically yang and yin are as intimately connected as the two sides of a hill: yin associated with the shady side, yang the sunny side. Gradually there emerged a complex scheme to make sense of all existing things by one or the other of these two principles of movement through correlated opposites. Here is one traditional listing, from documents found in 1973 in Mawangdui tombs from the 3rd century BCE:
|Big States||Small States|
|Elder Brother||Younger Brother|
|Getting on in the world||Being stuck where one is|
|Taking a wife||Having a funeral|
|Controlling others||Being controlled by others|
[source: A.C. Graham, Yin-Yang and the Nature of Correlative Thinking (Singapore: Institute of East Asian Philosophies, 1986),27-28.]
Clearly such lists could be extended indefinitely. Chinese correlative associations constitute a a total system in which everything that might come up in the Chinese world will find a place. Western knowledge aspires to “universality,” as exemplified in “natural laws” which apply everywhere and to all peoples, or the belief in one God who is present everywhere at all times. WCwCC(Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons) calls the Chinese approach “total” in because it is all-inclusive within the world governed by Chinese culture: nothing can happen that is not susceptible to be included in the system.
© Fudan University Press