Zou Yan

Zou Yan

Zou Yan (zh-cpw|c=鄒衍/邹衍|p=Zōu Yǎn|w=Tsou Yen; 305 BC - 240 BC) was the representative thinker of the School of Yin-Yang (or School of Naturalists) during the Hundred Schools of Thought era in Chinese philosophy. Joseph Needham, a British sinologist, describes Zou as "The real founder of all Chinese scientific thought." His teachings combined and systematized two current theories during the Warring States Period: Yin-Yang and the Five Elements/Phases (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water).

All of Zou Yan's writings were lost and are only known through quotations in early Chinese texts. The best information comes from his brief biography in the "Records of the Grand Historian" (1st century BC) by Sima Qian. It describes him as a polymath (philosopher, historian, politician, naturalist, geographer, astrologer) who came from the coastal state of Qi (present day Shandong), where he was a member of the state-sponsored Jixia Academy (稷下). Needham writes:

Zou Yan is commonly associated with Daoism and the origins of Chinese alchemy, going back to the (ca. 100 AD) Book of Han that calls him a "fangshi" (方士 [literally "technique master"] "alchemist; magician; exorcist; diviner"). Holmes Welch proposes the "fangshi" were among those whom Sima Qian described as "unable to practice" Zou Yan's arts, and says while Zou "gradually acquired alchemistical stature, he himself knew nothing of the art. It was probably developed by those of his followers who became interested in physical experimentation with the Five Elements." [Welch, Holmes. 1957. "Taoism: The Parting of the Way". Boston: Beacon Press. pp.96-97 ISBN 0-8070-5973-0]

ee also



External links

* [http://www.indiana.edu/~p374/Jixia.pdf#search=%22Zou%20Yan%22 Jixia Naturalistic Thought] , Indiana University
* [http://historion.net/w.eberhard-history-china/page-35.html Tsou Yen] , Wolfram Eberhard, "A History of China"
* [http://www.eng.taoism.org.hk/daoist-beliefs/yin-yang&supreme-ultimate/pg2-3-3a.asp Yin-Yang and the Five Agents] , Liu Zhongyu

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