太极 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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tàijí 太极

Taiji (The Supreme Ultimate)

“太极”有三种不同的含义:其一,指世界的本原。但古人对“太极”的世界本原之义又有不同理解:或以“太极”为混沌未分的“气”或“元气”;或以之为世界的普遍法则,即“道”或“理”;或以之为“无”。其二,占筮术语。指奇(—)偶(–)两画尚未推演确定或蓍草混一未分的状态,是卦象的根源。其三,指空间的最高极限。

Taiji (the supreme ultimate) has three different meanings. First, it refers to the origin of the world. The ancient Chinese saw it either as qi (vital force) or yuanqi (primordial vital force) that permeates the chaotic world, or as a universal principle, i.e. Dao or li (理), or as wu (无). Second, it is used as a term of divination, referring to the initial state before divinatory numbers, the odd number one (written as —) and the even number two (written as ––), are applied or before the yarrow stems are divided. Divination is conducted on the basis of taiji. Third, it stands for the highest point or boundary of space.

引例 Citations:

◎易始于太极,太极分而为二,故生天地。(《易纬·乾凿度》)

(易起始于太极,太极一分为二,因此生成了天地。)

Changes evolve from taiji, which gives rise to two primal forces of yin and yang. They in turn give birth to heaven and earth. (An Alternative Explanation of The Book of Changes)

◎总天地万物之理,便是太极。(《朱子语类》卷九十四)

(总合天地万物的理,便是太极。)

Taiji is the overriding law of all things, as well as heaven and earth. (Classified Conversations of Master Zhu Xi)

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