Member book, Smith, Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China

Richard J Smith's picture

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to let you know that earlier this year (2018) the University of Virginia Press published a revised paperback edition of my 2008 book Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World: The Yijing (I Ching, or Classic of Changes) and Its Evolution in China, which has been out of print for quite some time.

I have posted a PDF version of the new preface, which explains what has changed and what has not, at and Personally, I think that the book has held up very well over the years, and since the price is right (check out or, I hope that more scholars will consider incorporating its findings into their courses and publications.

Table of Contents:

Chapter 1, The Birth of the Changes;
Chapter 2, From Divinatory Text to “Confucian” Classic;
Chapter 3, Han Dynasty Approaches to the Yijing;
Chapter 4, The Six Dynasties through the Tang;
Chapter 5, The Song Dynasty;
Chapter 6, The Yuan and Ming Dynasties;
Chapter 7, The Qing Dynasty;
Chapter 8, The Changes in Modern China;
Chapter 9, The Yijing as a Source of Cultural Pride and Inspiration;
Concluding Remarks: The Changes in Comparative Perspective

General Description (from the new preface):

Focusing primarily on how the Changes developed in China from the Shang dynasty to the present, . . . [Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World] provides a rough map of the historical and intellectual terrain—an introduction to certain selected scholars, works, schools of interpretation, debates, practices, problems, and issues. This overview should give readers a good sense of how scholars and practitioners talked about and used the Yijing, and what a vast field of interpretive possibilities it presented to creative minds over time and across space. It does not, however, attempt to address all or even most of the controversies that still swirl around virtually every aspect of Changes interpretation, much less to resolve them.  Generally speaking, because one of my primary goals is to guide and encourage further exploration, at various points in the text, footnotes, and appendices I provide references to works in both Asian and Western languages in the hope that specialists and nonspecialists alike will enjoy comparatively easy access to relevant primary and secondary materials, as well as to other arguments, points of view, and avenues of investigation. . . . In choosing examples of how the Yijing was viewed and used for nearly three thousand years, I have been guided primarily by what Qing scholars and practitioners tended to identify as important [issues]. At the same time, I have tried to place these examples in a broader historical perspective and to avoid being as judgmental as Qing intellectuals tended to be about certain Yi-related theories, practices, and schools of thought. In fact, one of the main arguments of this book is that the categories to which Chinese thinkers have traditionally been consigned are too narrow to accommodate the full range and richness of their ideas.

If there are problems with the book, this might be a good place to discuss them. 拋磚引玉!
Cheers, Rich Smith