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Ontology with Chinese characteristics Homology as a mode of identification

Matthews, WE; (2017) Ontology with Chinese characteristics Homology as a mode of identification. HAU : Journal of Ethnographic Theory , 7 (1) pp. 265-285. 10.14318/hau7.1.020. Green open access

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This article describes the cosmological and ontological assumptions of diviners in contemporary China with a view to contributing to current anthropological debates on ontology. Ethnographic examples demonstrate that divination based on the cosmology of the Yi Jing assumes a monist ontology characterized by continuity of physicality and interiority. This argument is supported by discussions of cosmogony and the separability of the person. The correlative character of Yi Jing cosmology assumes that resemblances between entities and phenomena are based on shared intrinsic characteristics rather than analogies. In relation to Philippe Descola’s (2013) proposal of four modes of identification, this system posits continuity of physicality and interiority on a cosmic scale. It therefore constitutes a mode of identification—here labeled “Homologism,” unaccounted for by this model—in which it logically displaces Totemism as the structural counterpoint to Analogism.

Type: Article
Title: Ontology with Chinese characteristics Homology as a mode of identification
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.14318/hau7.1.020
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.14318/hau7.1.020
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Descola, China, Yi Jing, cosmology, ontology, divination, analogy, homology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559990
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