“Sagacity” and the Heaven–Human Relationship in the Wuxing 五行

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Guodian texts that appear to follow a Ruist (Confucian) line of thought are noteworthy in their special emphasis on the relationship between the spiritual world of Heaven and the world of humans. The Wuxing 五行 text is one of the main texts that clearly prioritizes such a divine–human connection. This chapter examines the way in which the author of the Wuxing establishes “Sagacity” (sheng 聖) as a key psychological marker of moral realization—associated with the divine Way of Heaven. I show how Sagacity epitomizes the ideal of harmony among the Five Conducts (wuxing 五行) by merging human, mundane realms of moral thought and feeling with divine apprehension of moral perfection. Through an analysis of musical metaphors that reveal the nature of the human–Heaven relationship in the human body, I demonstrate how some early Chinese Ruist thinkers grounded their ethics in a highly spiritual attitude towards the human psyche.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameDao Companions to Chinese Philosophy
ISSN (Print)2211-0275
ISSN (Electronic)2542-8780

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • History


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