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The Crafting of the 10,000 ThingsKnowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China$
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Dagmar Schafer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226735849

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226735856.001.0001

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(p.203) Chapter 6 Acoustics
The Crafting of the 10,000 Things
University of Chicago Press

This chapter demonstrates the original structure and actual dynamics of Song Yingxing's knowledge presentation. It engages with the physicality of sound in Song's concept of qi, his idea of the human voice, and hearing ability. Song's coherent survey into qi harmony and dissonance confirmed the existence of Chinese knowledge about theoretical acoustics. “Hearing” supplemented “seeing” in Song's repertoire of objectively analyzing the order of heaven. He observed that the principle correlating the production of sound and the return to silence was similar to that of the growth and decay of materials. It is shown that Song's treatises on sound and sound production verified his idea of a world functioning according to the principles of qi. In his inquiry into sound, Song refused to embrace the world of delusions and depravity in which he lived, a world “made by man,” emphasizing that order was provided within things and natural phenomena.

Keywords:   knowledge, acoustics, qi, Song Yingxing, human voice, hearing, harmony, sound

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