chapter  5
Divination in the Qing
Pages 33

In a widely read essay titled “An Inquiry into Fate” (Yuanming), the Qing scholar Quan Zuwang (1705-1755) expressed the ambivalence of both his time and his social class toward the problem of destiny and divination. On the one hand, he had to acknowledge that “the ancients spoke a great deal about fate.” On the other, he was quick to point out that talk of good and bad fortune by astrologers and other soothsayers was “unworthy of belief.” Citing Huang Zongxi (1610-1695) and other authorities, he went on to say that although divination systems based on simple calculations of time of birth could not possibly yield a satisfactory discussion of destiny, there were simply too many examples of wise men who believed in fortune-telling techniques to dismiss divination out of hand.2