Introduction to the Yi Jing
Online Zoom class
The Yi Jing (Book of Changes), dating back to approximately 1000 BCE, is among the most ancient Chinese texts surviving to this day. Originally conceived as an oracular method of divination, it sought to sift the intangible “seeds of change” produced by the permutations of “yin” and “yang,” the primordial female and male principles underlying the cosmos.
The course will begin by examining the basic philosophical and religious ideas underlying the Book of Changes. We will learn how to interpret the natural images and symbols comprising the sixty-four “hexagrams,” each composed of six lines to represent various permutations of yin and yang.
In the second half of the course, we will read some short but important commentaries on the Book of Changes. The writers of the commentaries regarded the principles of Yi Jing as the formative powers underlying all existence. This perspective has given rise to a different agenda – less motivated by a desire to predict the outcomes of particular human projects and goals, but oriented primarily toward reflections on the meaning of existence as a whole.
About the instructor
Ned Beach holds a PhD in Philosophy from Northwestern University and a second doctorate in Religious Studies from Stanford. He taught for three decades at various colleges and universities, the longest stint being at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, from which he retired as Professor Emeritus in 2013. Since then, he has also taught occasional courses at the University of Maine, Orono.