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Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination

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Volume 13

Asian Anthropologies

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Cosmic Coherence

A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination

William Matthews

200 pages, 11 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-268-1 $120.00/£89.00 / Hb / Published (November 2021)

eISBN 978-1-80073-269-8 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“What a piece of work! The book is not only an important contribution to the ethnography of divination in China, but also a long-awaited theoretical work that (re-)places China at the heart of on-going anthropological debates. It brilliantly demonstrates how the anthropology of China can significantly contribute to wider theoretical discussions on the anthropology of ontology and cosmology.” • Stéphanie Homola, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg


Humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. This book is about the role of cognition in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.

William Matthews is Fellow in the Anthropology of China at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of various scholarly articles and book chapters covering the topics of anthropology and Chinese studies.

Subject: Anthropology (General)SociologyCultural Studies (General)
Area: Asia


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