- Yi tuxiang yu Yi quanshi 易圖象與易詮釋
This book, the title of which might be translated as Changes Semiotics and Changes Hermeneutics, brings together five papers that Zheng Jixiong , a professor of Chinese Literature at National Taiwan University and former vicedirector of that university’s now defunct Center for the Study of East Asian Civilizations, has presented to various conferences in Taiwan over the last five years or so. It is part of a series published by that center that deals with the Chinese classics and their interpretation. Traditionally regarded as the first of the Chinese classics, the Yi jing or Classic of Changes affords a fascinating range of topics for interpretation, including both visual (the tuxiang “semiotics” [literally “charts and images”] of the title) and textual elements, and also a 2500-year interpretive tradition (the quanshi “hermeneutics” of the title). Below I will first summarize the five chapters, and then go on to consider in more depth a few of the issues to which Zheng returns throughout the book.
The book begins with a chapter titled “The Periodization and Classification of Twentieth Century Changes Hermeneutics as Seen from Hermeneutical Traditions on the Classics.” Zheng sees traditional Changes interpretations as constituting a continuous tradition that grew incrementally over the course of more than two millennia, only to be ruptured by intellectual and scholarly changes introduced early in the twentieth century. Most important of these changes are archaeologically excavated texts, many of them bearing directly on the Changes. According to Zheng, these changes have given rise to a historicist view of the classics, whereby Chinese scholars view them as texts produced at particular moments in time rather than as the timeless truth of the sages. He divides twentieth-century Changes scholarship into three periods: 1900–1930 (though he discusses only the years 1924–1930, the high tide of Gu shi bian iconoclasm); 1931–1973, which seems essentially to be an intermediate period; and 1973–2000, initiated by the discovery of the Mawangdui manuscript of the Changes and attendant [End Page 312] scholarship. He focuses in particular on three scholars who have led study of the Changes in Taiwan over the last fifty years: Qu Wanli (1907–1979), Xu Qinting , and Huang Peirong .
The second chapter, titled “Discriminating the Changes Charts and the Distinction between Confucians and Daoists,” is an in-depth study of the Yi tu ming bian by Hu Wei (1633–1714). According to Zheng Jixiong, this work, written in the opening years of the eighteenth century (it was first formally published in 1706), captured the spirit of its age. Hu was a friend and colleague of such scholars as Yan Ruoju (1636–1704) and Gu Zuyu (1631–1692), and his understanding of the Changes was much influenced by his elder contemporaries Mao Qiling (1623–1716) and Huang Zongxi (1610–1695). The book is essentially a polemic against Daoist influences in Song-Ming studies of the Dao. With respect to the Classic of Changes, the evidential scholarship of the age called for a return to the “classic” of Wen Wang , Zhou Gong , and Kongzi , and a rejection of the “image and number” (xiangshu ) interpretations that had begun in the Han dynasty and become increasingly popular in the Song. Hu was particularly critical of the influence of Liu Mu (1011–1064), many of whose charts were subsequently adapted and popularized by Zhu Xi (1130–1200), but he was implicitly critical also of Zhou Dunyi (1017–1073) and his famous Diagram of the Great Ultimate (Taiji tu ). Unfortunately, Hu Wei seems to have been more concerned with “Daoist” influences than with explaining anything. Although Zheng suggests that he was trying to establish a new approach to the Changes, and it is perhaps possible to see how this and other works of the early Qing led ultimately to the twentieth-century Changes scholarship surveyed in chapter 1, it is difficult to see how Hu’s purging of Daoist influences contributed to this new development.
The third chapter, titled “Discussing the Typologies and...