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Author: Robert A. Johnson ISBN Binding: Paperback Language: english. Will be clean, not soiled or stained. Books will be free of page markings. See details. See all 3 brand new listings. The terms are thereby an expression of the function of the sun on a particular place, but they do not speak to the actual substance of the objects the sun or mountain themselves. The specific traits of the objects can only be designated yin and yang in their functional correlation to one another. Within this matrix, yin things share commonalities when viewed in relation to yang things. In this way, the early association of yin and yang with gender can be seen as speaking to the relationship between genders, and not to their essential or substantial natures.
Yin and yang traits were thus seen as able to accurately describe broad differences between males and females as they interact with one another. Fixing the link between these categorizations, having men be yang in relation to women, who are yin , only works in a highly abstract or broad sense. For example, the Book of Changes states that the emperor is supposed to have six male ministers at the south palace a yang position and six wives or concubines at the north palace a yin position.
Like the southern and northern sides of a mountain, men and women are yang and yin in the way they serve the emperor. Social positions are linked to gender and understood through yin and yang. The sun starts in the east and the moon starts in the west. This is the distinction of yin and yang , the positions of husband and wife. The entire pattern can be overturned, as well, such as in the relationship between an empress and her male ministers, where the woman is yang and the men are considered yin.
However, such a situation was often considered something that should be approached with caution, as it violated natural patterns. For example, Wang Bi C. Dong, whose version of Confucianism won imperial backing during the Han dynasty, was also responsible for promoting the official establishment of a formal cosmology based on yin and yang , which became quite influential in the Chinese tradition. While he allows for men to be understood as yin and women as yang in certain contexts, overall he sought to limit the scope of such reversals. For Dong, males are dominant, powerful, and moral, and therefore yang.
Women, on the other hand, are precisely the opposite—subservient, weak, selfish, and jealous—and best described as yin. Against this biased intellectual background, oppressive practices were supported and initiated. For instance, the widespread acceptance of concubinage and female foot binding in Chinese social history expressed the inequality between genders.
Lying with the Heavenly Woman
Most Chinese thinkers were very attentive to the advantageousness of the complementary nature of male and female characteristics. In fact, in many texts considered Confucian that are predominant for two millennia of Chinese thought, the political system and gender roles are integrated Yang This integration is based on understanding yin and yang as fundamentally affixed to gender and thereby permeating all aspects of social life. Overall, while the complementary understanding of yin and yang did not bring about gender equality in traditional Chinese society, it remains a key factor for comprehending Chinese conceptions of gender.
Gender issues play an important role in the history of Chinese thought. Many thinkers theorized about the significance of gender in a variety of areas. The term xing first became an important philosophical concept in discussions about humanity and eventually human tendency, or renxing. It thereby connotes vital activities and physiological desires or needs.
It is in this sense that Mengzi B. He also says that form and color are natural characteristics, or natural xing. The Record of Rituals similarly comments that food, drink, and relations between men and women are defining human interests. He did, however, similarly classify xing as the desire for food, warmth, and rest. Sheng can also be a verb, which gives xing a slightly different connotation. The Mengzi expressly refers to this, stating that xing is understood through the heart-mind.
This also marks the distinction between humans and animals. A human xing provides specific characteristics and enables a certain orientation for growth that is unique in that it includes a moral dimension. It is in this sense that Mengzi proposes his theory for natural human goodness, a suggestion that Xunzi later rebuts, albeit upon a similar understanding of xing. Texts classified as Daoist, such as the Laozi and Zhuangzi , similarly affirm that xing is what endows beings with their particular virtuousness though it is not necessarily moral. Natural human tendencies are thereby not simply inherent, they also need to be grown and refined.
The Xunzi agrees, adding that too much change or purposeful change can bring about falsity—which often results in immoral thoughts, feelings, or actions. These texts agree in their argument that there are certain natural patterns or processes for each thing, and deviating from these is potentially dangerous. These discussions look at human tendencies as largely shaped in the context of society, and can be taken as a conceptual basis for understanding gender as a natural tendency that is steered through social institutions.
For example, when Mengzi is asked why the ancient sage-ruler Shun lied to his parents in order to marry, Mengzi defends Shun as doing the right thing. This also produces physiological properties that account for a wide variety of characteristics that are then reflected in aspects of gender, culture, and social status.
Linked to the understanding of yin and yang as functionally codependent categorizations, differences between genders are characterized on the basis of their distinguishing features, and defined correlatively. This means that behavior and identity largely arise within the context of male-female relations. Thus there are more physiological and cultural aspects to human tendencies, as well. In these diverse ways, Chinese philosophy emphasizes the difference between males and females, believing that each has their own particular aspects to offer, which are complementary and can be unified to form a harmonious whole though this does not necessarily imply their equality.
In fact, in one of the earliest references to the distinction between men and women, the Record of Rituals asserts:. Once there is a difference between males and females, then there can be love between fathers and sons. Once there is love between fathers and sons, obligations are generated. Once obligations are generated, rituals are made. Once rituals are made, all things can be at ease. The original difference between genders is—presumably through the generative power of their combination—the foundation for obligations or morality and thus ritual or social moral patterns , which allows finally for harmony in the cosmos as a whole.
Through the establishment of the concept that human tendencies are formed and act in line with nature, Chinese gender cosmology applies an analogous generative model of yin and yang to a general understanding of the world. Another early text, the 3 rd century B. To heal illness [one] must seek its root. Zhang Here, yin and yang are taken as a pattern embedded in the existence of all beings, thus providing the foundation for a coherent worldview.
This weaves together human beings, nature, and dao way in a manner that creates a dynamic wholeness pervaded by and mediated through the interaction of yin and yang. This Chinese cosmological view sees all things, including humans, as borne of both yin and yang and thus naturally integrated with one another. In essence, dao represents the interaction between yin and yang , and it is in this respect that the Laozi tells us that dao is both the source and the model, or pattern, for all things Laozi More directly, the Laozi comments that all things in turn carry yin and embrace yang Laozi This shows that through yin and yang and their patterns of interaction dao provides the rhythm of the cosmos.
From this perspective the genders also complement and nourish one another, and are even vital to one another. The idea that the interaction of yin and yang generates the myriad things in existence corresponds to intercourse between male and female as the only means for reproducing life. Therefore, the nature of men and women in Chinese philosophy is not only based on purely physiological characteristics and differences, but is also the embodiment of yin and yang forces in gender. The dao of men and women are linked to the dao of the universe in terms of reproducing life.
There, eight trigrams are given, which represent eight natural phenomena and can further be combined to form sixty-four hexagrams. These are expressions of the function and movement of yin and yang. They are composed of two contrasting symbols: the yang-yao unbroken horizontal line, and the yin-yao broken horizontal line.
Some scholars see these as referring to the male and female genitals respectively. They are also responsible for the formation of general gender stereotypes in Chinese thought. They provide the gateways for change, and are considered, quite literally, the father and mother of all other hexagrams which equates to all things in the world. The broad system of the Book of Changes attempts to explain every type of change and existence, and is built upon an identification of yin and yang with the sexes as well as their interaction with one another.
Their interaction generates all things and events in a way that is similar to the intercourse between males and females, bringing about new life. The Commentary on the Appended Phrases makes the link to gender issues clear by stating that both qian and kun have their own dao s ways that are responsible for the male and female respectively. The text goes on to discuss the interaction between the two, both cosmologically in terms of the heavens and earth and biologically in terms of the sexes.
The conclusion is that their combination and interrelation is responsible for all living things and their changes. Interaction between genders is thus the primary mechanism of life, which explains all forms of generation, transformation, and existence. Theoretically, the social order of gender in Chinese thought is broadly formed on the concepts of the heavens and earth and yin and yang. When these notions are applied to the social field, they are likened to the male and female genders.
In the aforementioned Commentary on the Appended Phrases , heaven and yang are considered honorable, while the earth and yin are seen as lowly in comparison.