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한국과학사학회지, 제37권 제2호 (2015), 479-497

[KJHS Forum] Numerology and Calendrical Learning: The Stories of Yang Guangxian and Liu Xiangkui

by CHU Pingyi
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초록 This paper employs the stories of Yang Guangxian 楊光先and Liu Xiangkui 劉湘煃to explore the tension between numerology and calendrical learning after Euro-pean missionaries had successfully imported new calendrical technique into the Qing court in 1644. I argue that Yang’s failed struggle against the Jesuits created an intellectual juncture for the Chinese calendrical tradition, and eventually led to the separation between numerology and calendrical learning, which crystallized in Ruan Yuan’s 阮元 Chourenzhuan 疇人傳(Genealogical Biographies of Calendri-cal Experts). Before the adoption of the hybrid calendar of the Jesuits, which re-tained its Chinese format but employed the European techniques, numerology and calendrical learning shared the same cosmological outlook. Therefore, someone like Yang could claim his authority in the field of calendrical study, though he did not know the nuts and bolts of calendrical computation. The Jesuits, however, strongly criticized numerology and claimed that it was unrelated to calendrical astronomy. Many Confucian astronomers also shared this view as they found that calendrical computations were different from numerological calculation which treats numbers not only as a quantitative measurement but also as a qualitative measure associated with the cosmic forces of yinyang and wuxing used in numer-ology to predict the future or to account for the operation of the phenomenal world. Ruan Yuan and his colleagues recast the meaning of chouren, expecting him to be a Confucian scholar who would be well-versed in calendrical computations. Never-theless, numerology continued to be practiced by many chouren like Liu Xiangkui out of necessity. Certainly, a chouren could still be a numerologist but no longer vice versa. The common users of the almanac, the end product of the calendar, expected the maker of the calendar, the chouren, to be someone who could com-mand the natural phenomena by his astronomical knowledge, however.
주요어 numerology, calendar, Yang Guangxian, Jesuits, Ruan Yuan, divination
CHU Pingyi, "Numerology and Calendrical Learning: The Stories of Yang Guangxian and Liu Xiangkui," The Korean Journal for the History of Science 37:2 (2015), 479-497

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