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Cosmology And Concepts Of Nature In Traditional China

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Chapter Summary

For Chinese cosmologists, as well as their counterparts in most other pre-modern cultures, the key to understanding order in the universe was correlative thinking. This chapter concentrates on one of the simplest and most important types of correlative cosmology in China of the late Zhou and Han eras, namely correspondences between the macrocosm, particularly the astronomical heavens, and the political (and moral) microcosm of the imperial state. One advantage of focusing on this type of correlative cosmology in China is that it highlights Chinese views of one aspect of the natural world, the astronomical heavens. Astronomy, or at least observation of the heavens, served to anchor the rather fragile and fledgling political order of the Han dynasty in a celestial order that seemed to be constant, regular, and even eternal.

Keywords: astronomical heavens; Chinese cosmologists; concepts of nature; correlative thinking; imperial state



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