In the context of the I Ching and Ancient China, the yin/yang perspective is extended into the realm of dynamics through what is called 'Five-Phase Theory' (also see Phases). This theory reflects a dynamic of energy 'flow', Qi (or Ch'i, [chee]), and is dominant in Chinese Medicine as shown through the specialisation of Acupuncture. The overall focus in Chinese Medicine is in the maintaining of the balance of 'Qi' in the body, to maintain 'harmony'. In this "Five-Phase I Ching" we show all of the hexagrams and their trigram relationships in the context of five-phase theory. [Take me to the hexagrams]
The formal ordering of the five-phase sheng cycle (for the alternative orderings see the tables on five-phase) is:
WOOD phase (prepare, produce)
FIRE phase (express, distribute) [in the realm of emotions this sign maps to acceptance and a 'selling' of an ideology etc]
EARTH phase (filter, discern, intervene - do I 'swallow it' or not?)
METAL phase (absorb, exchange) [in the realm of emotions this sign maps to a focus on replacement]
WATER phase (process, consume)
(I use capital letters to distinguish these five-phase names from some of the I Ching trigrams that have the same names).
Do we find anything like five-phase in other specialisations? yes we do, in the
area of Western Economics Theory where the 'Qi' inside of us is manifest in social interactions in the form of
money and its exaggeration as Capital. Political Economists categorised the dynamics, the circulation, of money
and capital into five phases/categories:
Karl Marx expounded on these greatly in the mid 1800s in his analysis of Political Economy (in three volumes of Capital as well as in three volumes on Surplus Value (Collectively considered as volume IV or Capita and various other textsl). For example, Marx wrote:
"PRODUCTION creates articles corresponding to requirements; DISTRIBUTION
allocates then according to social laws; EXCHANGE in its turn distributes the goods, which have already been allocated,
in conformity to individual needs; finally in CONSUMPTION the product leaves this social movement, it becomes the
direct object and servant of an individual need, which its use satisfies. PRODUCTION thus appears as the point
of departure, consumption as the goal, distribution and exchange as the middle, which has a dual form, since according
to the definition, DISTRIBUTION is actuated by society, and EXCHANGE is actuated by individuals. In production
persons acquire an objective aspect, and in consumption objects acquire a subjective aspect; in distribution it
is society which by means of dominant general rules mediates between production and consumption; in exchange this
mediation occurs as a result of random decisions of individuals." (*my*
uppercase) IN from section 2 - General Relations of Production to Distribution, Exchange, and Consumption in Marx,
K., "Introduction to a Critique of Political Economy" IN C.J.Arthur (ed) of Marx and Engels "The
German Ideology" (International Publishers, 2001)
Note the last section:
"In production persons acquire an objective aspect, and in consumption objects acquire a subjective aspect; in distribution it is society which by means of dominant general rules mediates between production and consumption; in exchange this mediation occurs as a result of random decisions of individuals"
Obviously Marx was AWARE of Filtration (here using the term mediation) but he did not attribute it as a phase in its own right - although he correctly associated mediation to the 'middle' elements of the cycle as a part to distribution and a part to exchange.
DISTRIBUTION (includes filteration rules from society)
EXCHANGE (includes filtration rules from self)
As we shall see, the ORDERING Marx gives here reflects the exact ordering within the Filtration processes we will identify in five-phase, the 000 element in EARTH that is focused on rules being sourced externally (I Ching trigram of Earth), followed by the 001 element in EARTH that was focused on personal sense of discernment (I Ching trigram of Mountain).
PRODUCTION (WOOD - thunder/wind)
DISTRIBUTION (FIRE - fire)
FILTRATION (EARTH - earth/mountain)
EXCHANGE (METAL - lake/heaven)
CONSUMPTION (WATER - water)
When you include Filtration as a phase of its own so you include perspectives other than of those participating in the 'loop', you include Marx's perspective of rejecting the loop altogether where the attempt to be precise and so 'distance' himself from Capitalism made him believe he was 'outside' of the loop.
What I mean here is that the loop is part of our species nature and as such you cannot stand 'outside' of it, only take-up an extreme position in a phase. Here for Marx et al was a filtering position of total rejection and as such he and others failed to include that perspective as part of the loop.
The ability to map these patterns from Western Economics and Eastern Medicine reflects the GENERAL nature of these patterns, their being parts of, expressions of, our species nature as a whole. Of special notice is that, being a product of recursion so the whole loop is repeated IN EACH PHASE.
Of particular note regarding the cycles is that Marx comes up with two basic
circuits of flow:
(1) C » M » C Where a commodity (C) is exchanged for money (M) that is then exchanged for a commodity. This is a traditional, balancing, and so maintaining of integration process. The M was introduced to allow one to hold off on a direct commodity for commodity exchange, to transfer the value into money that can be used later to get a commodity of the same value. Overall, things remain balanced and any exploitation is done through the exploitation of money.
(2) M » C » M' Here we have turned the above circuit 'on its head' where now we use money to buy commodities that we then sell for (a) our original outlay PLUS (b) a little bit 'extra' - here is the source of the concept of 'Surplus Value'. In other words this circuit shifts the focus of exploitation from money to the exploitation of commodities - aka labour and raw materials.
The C-M-C circuit reflects the flow of Qi between nodes. The M-C-M' circuit reflects the recruitment of Qi to make more Qi, and so the process of exploitation and transcendence over the more traditional focus on integration, transformation where all we do is shapeshift rather than also transcend - we maintain overall balance where 'exaggerations' are localised to adaptations to context changes - The exploitation focus is on REPLACING the context altogether with something considered 'better'. (See the concepts of The Transformation function and the Transcendence function in IDM).
In the basic derivation of a set of qualities to be used to describe 'reality'
we use the concept of recursion,
self-referencing. Here we apply recursion to the abstract concepts of 0 and 1 to give us:
(level 0) : 0 (a potential)
(level 1) : 0 / 1 (distinction within the potential)
(level 2) : 00, 01 / 10, 11 (further distinctions)
(level 3) : 000, 001, 010, 011 / 100, 101, 110, 111 (eight symbols for measuring qualities)
Firstly note that this process of recursion takes the general qualities declared at level 1 and pushes them out to the boundaries, all new qualities emerge from the middle.
Secondly, note that this process of recursion has given us a set of scalars,
magnitudes, that we can use as representing expressions of energy etc. e.g. 'COLD (000)' to 'HOT (111)'. What determines
the qualifying terms (COLD - HOT) is the context. This method of deriving a set of qualities to use as measurement
is universal. The linking of the universals to a context gives us 'meaning' in the form of specific concepts rather
The universals themselves are just markers of differences in energy expression, from conserving (000) to expending (111), from WHERE (000) to WHAT (111) from integrating (000) to differentiating (111). This ordering is 'natural' - see for example psychologist Clare Graves' attempts to order mental states - the ordering of his categories from top of page (mapped to 000) to bottom of page (mapped to 111) reflects the above sequence at work unconsciously, see http://www.clarewgraves.com/theory_content/CG_FuturistTable.htm
This SAME sequence is used in the I Ching to derive the trigrams, ordered:
earth (000), mountain, water, wind, thunder, fire, lake, heaven (111).
The level 3 sequence as such serves as a PASSIVE form of description, being scalars so we can move 'up' or 'down' and so the sequence is both repeatable as well as reversible. BUT nature is not like that. In nature we have 'flow', 'hot to cold', production to consumption etc etc
The properties and methods of the dynamics of Qi and the dynamics of Money/Capital reflect an overall set of properties and methods within the species' method of deriving meaning, of processing 'value'. Thus the Chinese extension of yin/yang into five-phase is also reflected in the socioeconomic extension of supply/demand into five socioeconomic phases. The difference seems to be in that Acupuncture aims to 'keep things moving' by defusing exaggerations and so maintaining balance and ensuring 'flow' whereas Capitalism favours accumulating 'Qi' at certain points to use it as leverage to 'make' more Qi, or more so to exaggerate, to form an asymmetry out of the symmetry. As such Capitalism can be 'unhealthy' if not managed correctly!
Comparative analysis between Five-Phase Theory and Economics (as well as some
acupuncture terms (Nth hemisphere perspective)) shows that:
PRODUCTION reflects the meanings of WOOD (Liver functions, heavenly soul, EAST, humaneness, Spring)
DISTRIBUTION reflects the meanings of FIRE (Heart functions, to pump out; spirit, SOUTH, wisdom, Summer)
FILTRATION (QA processes) reflects the meanings of EARTH (Spleen functions, mind, CENTRE, trust, regulation)
EXCHANGE reflects the meanings of METAL (Lung functions, Oxygen/CO2, corporeal soul, WEST, rightness, Autumn)
CONSUMPTION reflects the meanings of WATER (Kidney functions, will, NORTH, ritual decorum, Winter)
Chinese medicine focuses on the management of 'Qi'. Western economics focuses on the management of money/capital. Both reflect a general 'quality' of a 'life-force of 'value'. Both focus on the circulation of this 'force', both cover the accumulation of, release of, this 'force'. IOW both categorise the local concepts of Qi/money-capital that reflects a general concept that is part of our species' perspective on reality.
When we zoom-in on the qualities WITHIN the Chinese distinctions we find:
WOOD is split into two:
production through something original, new, raw
production through something cultivated, reproduced, cooked
EARTH is spilt into two:
filtration through something given, a book of rules, standing orders etc (no personal 'say')
filtration through something derived, as in one's learnt set of qualities, personal discernment
METAL is split into two:
exchange through cooperation
exchange through opposition/competition
Thus in five-phase the eight have become five where the five 'nature' reflects the influences of dynamics, of context, on the ideal eight, note that the eight of five-phase can be identified in the phases in economics theory. Now lets look again at that level of 8 categories of 'energy' levels:
(level 3) : 000, 001, 010, 011 / 100, 101, 110, 111
The eights of five-phase/economics are reflected in fives here as:
000 - filtration through given means (instincts, standing orders) EARTH (soft)
001 - filtration through derived means (personal experience) EARTH (hard)
010 - consumption WATER
011 - production through reproduction, raw-into-cooked WOOD
100 - production through creation of something new, raw, 'enlightening' WOOD
101 - distribution FIRE
110 - exchange through cooperation METAL (soft)
111 - exchange through competition/opposition METAL2 (hard)
What does all of this mean? the focus is on energy expenditure. filtration is one of the most primitive forms of food processing and here (000) it reflects the energy expenditure when the process is 'mindless' - controlled by instincts. (000)
The next level of energy is where there is personal discernment applied (001)
The next level of energy is on the focus of active consumption. I have to do more than 'filter'. (010)
The next level of energy is in the processing of food etc but food already existing as 'raw' (011)
We now cross over into a PROACTIVE level. Here the level of energy for production of something 'new' is more than production through cooking etc. (100)
The next level of energy is where products get distributed to others. (101)
The next level of energy is where we move into 'sales' - the active promotion of something, to sell it. Here this process is through cooperation. (110)
The 'final' level of energy is where we sell in competition with others. (111)
Thus - the 'lowest' level of energy expenditure is in QA (filtering). The 'highest' level of energy expenditure is in Sales (exchange).
What this 'ordering' says is that PROACTIVE processes require a level of energy in excess of REACTIVE, and so of filtering, consuming, and reproducing etc.
Lets go back to the sequence:
(level 3) : 000, 001, 010, 011 / 100, 101, 110, 111
The dynamic for 'new' products, and for 'transcendence' in general requires one to be at the energy level of 100, in the I Ching the realm of Thunder. The implication here is that this is also the level out of which consciousness etc will emerge. The CYCLE process loops out of this 100 level (or from the middle of 011/100) but to get it going, to get it to 'take off' on its own requires a buildup of energy levels as a foundation. That is what the basic recursion process does - gives you the level 3 from which more can develop. Overall the reording of level 3 gives us:
100, 011, 101, 000, 001, 110, 111, 010. The 'flow' of energy in the development process. These differences in energy distribution will be of interest later.
What we note in the intentional exploitation to make money is the reaction to this process in that the excessive exploitation of labour (people) and means of production (the planet's raw materials) has led to something Marx did explicitly NOT pick up on - formal interventionism as a 'stand alone' phase and so of equal stature to the other phases of production to consumption.
Interventionism comes in the form of (a) Socialism to aid in mediating the exploitation
of labour, and (b) Conservationism to aid in mediating the exploitation of raw materials, and as such reflects
the Acupuncturist's needles. (and so in modern, more developed, times, we find most countries have a political
party that is 'capitalist' and often TWO respondent parties, a socialist party ('Labour' or 'Democrat' parties
(e.g. Labour in the UK, SPD in Germany, Democrats in the USA)), and a conservationist party (the "Greens"
in UK,Germany, Australia etc etc - Ralph Nader's party in the last US elections, showing the distinct differences
between Socialist focus vs Conservationist focus where the latter took votes off the Democrats since the Democrats
are more focused on labour than resources)
In Chinese medicine, in Acupuncture this 'mediation' is in the form of the use of needles 'in the right places'. (The Marxist-Leninist focus on capitalism turning into socialism etc reflects the intuitive understanding of the mediation of capitalism, of exaggerations, but a failure to understand that you cannot 'remove' or 'replace' capitalism, just 'moderate' it to a degree where it can look 'socialist' - but then modern capitalism IS socialist when compared to the unbridled capitalism of the 1850s - the times that Marx wrote about. Furthermore, Marxist_Leninist philosophy focuses on the abolition of 'exploitation' - again something 'impossible' since it is a behaviour built-in to all species as a method of survival! - see the IDM material).
In BOTH Chinese five-phase and in the analysis of the flow of capital we find identical, GENERIC patterns, patterns that 'aid' in flow, slow it down, speed it up, or block it, that are not properties of Chinese Medicine nore Capitalist Economics but properties of the species' determination and use of 'value'. Thus Government intervention on social development is in the form of interest rate management and so a form of 'acupuncture' to control, to block or loosen-up flow.
By understanding these 'universal' properties and methods of dynamics so we can start to see the possibilities in the use of such metaphors as the I Ching to 'describe' reality, not just in describing the static forms of trigrams and hexagrams but also their dialectical properties that 'feed' both the maintaining of balance (transformations) as well as the ability to 'transcend'.
As such, just as there are two forms of economics - balancing vs transcending - so there are two forms of five-phase where rather than maintain 'balance' all of the time, there may be LOCAL situations where some exaggeration is needed to 'transcend' something. The issue is to avoid getting too 'addicted' to transcendence. (drug use reflects this where the use of cocaine/speed acts to exaggerate the sense of self, as does the use of ecstasy act to exaggerate social contact/well-being)
Note that the CONTROL loop in the Five-Phase reflects:
Production supports (feeds into) Distribution
Production is controlled by Exchange (i.e. LOCAL distribution - the realm of RETAIL as compared to Distribution and WHOLESALE)
Distribution supports Filtration
Distribution is controlled by Consumption (Demand controls Supply, slow consumption dams-up distribution. fast consumption strains distribution)
Filtration supports Exchange
Filtration is controlled by Production ('Negative' products elicit increased filtration, demand for 'quality control'))
Exchange is supported by Filtration
Exchange is controlled by Distribution (Retail depends on wholesale availability)
Consumption is supported by Exchange
Consumption is controlled by Filtration (belief systems affect consumption)
What is required is a mapping of the generic processes from the level of 'differentiations and integrations' and this stems from the IDM work where the similarity in dynamics of 'Qi' management 'in the body' vs money/capital 'management' between bodies reflects the ability to treat social interactions as organic in form and as such move from managing/predicting body states to managing/predicting socioeconomic states. We will next endevour to map these generic processes but through the specialisation that is the I Ching.
Continue with Five-Phase I Ching