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Document Type(s):Book Chapter
Book Title:Science and Civilisation in China
Article/Chapter Title:The Theoretical Background of Elixir Alchemy
Editor(s):Needham, Joseph
Author(s):Needham, Joseph; Sivin, Nathan
Publisher Name:Cambridge University Press
Place of Publication:Cambridge
Date of Publication:1980
Issue:Part 4
Annotation:Immediately following a discussion on the chemical and proto-chemical accomplishments of ancient Chinese alchemists, this essay examines assumptions and concepts that underpin alchemical aims and methods. Fundamental notions of Chinese natural philosophy such as the Five Elements, Yin and Yang, ch’i, and trigram and hexagram systems in the Book of Changes are described while the elixir for material immortality is examined through an investigation of rituals, incantations, medical therapeutics, and metallurgy. Specific attention is given to the overarching notion of the organic totality of space and time in Taoist thought.
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