Comparative perspectives on early Chinese divination.


American Research in the Humanities in China


Comparative Literature & Foreign Languages


This research is part of a broader project that compares the social history and practice of divination in Chinese and Greek antiquity. Its seven chapters explore: (1) the broad social contexts for Chinese and Greek divination; (2) their origins and early development; (3) technical developments during the “classical” periods late Warring States China and-5th and-4th century Greece; (4)ritual and technical aspects of divination in (4) medicine and (5) warfare; rhetorical and self-reflective aspects of divinatory discourse in (6)poetic and historical narratives and (7) philosophical debates on divination, ethics, causality, validity and fate. The comparative discussion focuses on: (1) the nature and practice of divination, including its dual religious and technical character, its dominant modes of practices and consultation, and the presence pf peculiarly Chinese and peculiarly Greek modes or issues. (2) questions of the relations of divination, consensus and authority; the social functions of divination, practical questions of balance of power between practitioners and consultants, and their rhetorical use in debates about omens, historiography, claims for moral authoritative performance. (3) reflections of the role of divination in the growth of intellectual disciplines, critical debate, scientific reasoning, self-conscious reflection and systematic inquiry.