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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-G020-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

A difficult term to contextualize within Western conceptual frameworks, qi is variously rendered as ‘hylozoistic vapours’, ‘psychophysical stuff’, ‘the activating fluids in the atmosphere and body’, and, perhaps most appropriately, ‘vital energizing field’. In the earlier texts, before the notion came to be adapted to the speculative constructions of the Han cosmologists, it had a significance not unlike the Greek pneuma (‘breath’ or ‘animating fluid’). In the ‘cosmological’ speculations of the Han dynasty (206 bcad 220), qi came to be understood as the vital stuff constitutive of all things and was characterized in terms of the active and passive dynamics of yang and yin.

Citing this article:
Hall, David L. and Roger T. Ames. Qi, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-G020-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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