chapter  1
The languages of the Yijing and the representation of reality
Pages 33

In traditional Chinese thought, the sixty-four hexagrams of the Yijing (Classic of Changes) represented symbolically the images or structures of change in the universe, and, as such, had enormous explanatory value. Like Chinese characters, these hexagrams were a distinctly visual medium of communication, concrete yet ambiguous, with several possible levels of meaning as well as a great many accumulated allusions and associations. As it developed over time, the Yijing reveals with striking clarity one of the most important ways that the Chinese in pre-twentiethcentury China organized and explained the world around them. Through an analysis of the symbolism, structure, and cultural uses of the Changes, we can gain insights into deeply imbedded and long-standing Chinese patterns of perception, forms of logic, styles of argumentation, and approaches to questions of aesthetic and moral value.1