The concepts of Yin and Yang in ancient Chinese philosophy

Yin and Yang are important concepts in the theory of traditional Chinese medicine. The concepts were from ancient Chinese philosophy.

In ancient China, the theory of Yin and Yang or the supernatural power of ghosts and gods were two ways that people explained natural phenomena.

In the spring of 644 BC, five aerolites landed in the territory of the Song State, which was one of feudal states in the Zhou Dynasty. And six birds flew backwards over the capital of the Song State. At that time, the emissary sent by the Zhou’s king visited the Song State. The monarch of the Song State asked the royal emissary, “What is the omen? Good or bad?” The royal emissary made a prophecy, but he privately said to others, “The monarch should not ask that. It’s the changes of Yin and Yang, not the cause of good or bad fortune. Good or bad fortune is caused by humans, but I couldn’t say this before the monarch.”

In the nature, what kinds of things are classified as Yin, and what kinds of things are classified as Yang? In short, the things which are down, cold, dark or less active are classified as Yin, while the things which are up, warm, bright or active is classified as Yang.

The sun is classified as Yang, and the moon is classified as Yin. In the noon of a day, Yang is the strongest. In the mid night, Yin is the strongest. At the summer solstice Yang is the strongest, and at the winter solstice Yin is the strongest.

Water is classified as Yin, and fire is classified as Yang.

Women are classified as Yin, and men are classified as Yang.

The north side of a mountain is classified as Yin. The south side of a mountain is classified as Yang.

The south bank of a river is classified as Yin. The north bank of a river is classified as Yang. If we pay attention to a fishpond in a sunny day of winter, we can see fishes gathered in the north of the pond. Why? They can enjoy the warm sunshine.

In the world view of ancient Chinese people, the human world is classified as Yang, and the underworld is classified as Yin.

In ancient Chinese philosophy, Qi is the fundamental substance that forms the world. Qi divides into Yin and Yang. Therefore, Yin is also called Yin-Qi, while Yang is also called Yang-Qi.
In contrast with the broad and abstract concepts of philosophy, the Yin and Yang theory that is applied in traditional Chinese medicine is much more complicated.

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