Chinese philosophy lays emphasise either on the practical running of society and mores (Confucianism), or a scientific study and interpretation of nature in terms of the interaction and interchange of a few basic principles,
such as yin and yang, the five elements (or wu ching, more properly translated as "five states of change"), and eight trigrams and sixty four hexagrams
(as explained in the ancient book of divination known as the I Ching). From the former comes the regulations for running society and human interaction; from the latter, an understanding of the subtle principles of nature and the human body (as illustrated in the various forms of Chinese medicine (acupuncture, etc) and "Taoist yoga"). So we could say that the emphasis has consistently been "horizontal" rather than "vertical". And this was probably the reason why Chinese civilisation has always been (until the scientific revolution in the West) so technologically advanced, producing such inventions as the magnetic compass, gunpowder, printing, etc.
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content by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 1998, revised 6 November 1998 & 24 May 2001