Abstract

Dong Zhongshu (Tung Chung-shu) (179-104 B.C.E.) was the first prominent Confucian to integrate yin-yang theory into Confucianism. His constructive effort not only generates a new perspective on yin and yang, it also involves implications beyond its explicit contents. First, Dong changes the natural harmony (he) of yin and yang to an imposed unity (he). Second, he identifies yang with human nature (xing) and benevolence (ren), and yin with emotion (qing) and greed (tan). Taken together, these two novelties grant a philosophical basis for the theory and practice of gender inequality in their specifically Chinese manifestations. An analysis of Dong's work shows that the mere complementarity of yin and yang does not guarantee gender equality; they are not fixed categories, but together form a transformative dynamic harmony.

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