The “虚指Xuzhi ” of Number in Ancient China: Evidence from the Yijing


  •  Yancheng Yang    

Abstract

Number, especially the number system has been an important part of the Yijing text, which can help us probe into the myth of the Yijing. The Yijing languages treat numerical notion from ‘one’ to ‘ten’ very special, especially about the “虚指Xuzhi” (empty reference or implicit meaning) usage of ‘three’, ‘seven’, ‘nine’ and ‘ten’, etc. The numeral expressions and linguistic representations in the Yijing text indicate that the decimal system of numbers has been very popular at that time. From the analysis of the Yijing text, it can be seen that linguistic and cultural conceptualization of number exists and the usage of numbers at that time has reached “亿 yi 100 million”, which also indicates the strong numeral notions or ideas of the ancestors in ancient China. This paper mainly illustrates the “虚指Xuzhi” (empty reference or implicit meaning) of the original number in the Yijing by linguistic and cultural conceptualization of number, dealing with historical aspects of number usage.



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