Wednesday, June 11, 2003

The Digital Revolution began with Fu Xi (數位革命開始:伏羲)

The Digital Revolution began with Fu Xi (數位革命開始:伏羲)
[通訊技術 ]

Digital Codes

The diagram [labeled Moderrn Barcodes] is of a trigram/ hexagram that has been converted from a bar code. The bar coding system is used in the marketplace because of its convenience in monitoring incoming and outgoing merchandise. Bar coding is a system in which red laser light is shone onto a series of dark and light spaces which either absorbed (Yin - 0) the laser light or reflect (Yang - 1) the light, thereby sending a signal back to a computer that can read the program. The light is absorbed by the bars and reflected by the empty spaces in between. Because bar codes and hexagrams are both digital codes that interpret information in the same way, they can be directly converted into one another. When the two digital codes, the numbers 0 and 1, are read as Yin and Yang respectively, the bar codes can be translated directly into hexagrams.

In the West, the digital system that uses binary codes was not used prior to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's 18th century development of the binary system. In the East, however, a digital coding system was in place 5,000 years ago within the pages of the I Ching. A digital coding system is effective to accurately distinguish differences in matter and furthermore when that information is inputted into a computer, its overall tendencies can be easily understood. This is the reason the I Ching uses a digital coding system.

The diagram [labeled Bouvet/Leibniz I Ching Diagram] was originally sent to Leibniz on April 2, 1703 by his friend Joachim Bouvet who was a French missionary in China. This diagram illustrates the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching in a circular (active or Yang arrangement) and a square (passive or Yin arrangement) pattern. It originally comes from the book True Meaning of I Ching by Zhu Xi, the famous Neo-Confucian of the Song dynasty. After receiving this diagram, Leibniz was shocked to discover that the binary system existed in the East for the past 5,000 years. He later added the numbers to the diagram, while Bouvet added the Greek letters. This wood block printed diagram is currently kept at Heinoberg Library in Germany.

The main theories of the I Ching are believed to have been transmitted to the West during the Tang dynasty (618 AD-907 AD), alongside the methods of cultivating elixirs (Taoist self-cultivating techniques, which later developed into alchemy) during a time of active cultural exchange between the East and West. Evidence of this can be found in the mysterious picture of alchemy in the book 'Museum Hermeticum' published in 1625 at Frankfurt, Germany. Leibniz even wrote a book that compares the parallels between the binary system and the I Ching. Because the binary system is simpler than the decimal system, it can more clearly distinguish one thing from another and is easily translated into the on and off switches utilized in computers. It was, after all, the development of the binary system that led to the discovery and ultimate success of computers.

Editor's Comments:

The above article was authored by David Lee and Joseph Kim, two experts in Far Eastern Medicine and Martial Arts from Korea.

Most people in the West, and probably even in the Far East, assume that everything about the modern world was the exclusive achievement of Western Europe during and after the Industrial Revolution, and that Far Eastern cultures such as China, Korea, and Japan contributed little if anything to the creation of our modern, technological world. This gross misconception is the predictable result of a widespread and deep-rooted historical amnesia. Intellectual giants such as Leibniz, Voltaire, and Carl Jung knew otherwise. They appreciated the enormous intellectual debt the West owed to China and Far Eastern civilization.

Today America stands on the top rungs of a technological ladder. Many of the lower and middle rungs of that ladder however, were provided by China, hundreds, even thousands of years ago. The average Chinese person in Taipei, Hong Kong, or Beijing today has little if any understanding about how a whole range of key Chinese inventions enabled Europe and America to progress scientifically and technologically to where they are today. The above article provides the "man-in-the-street" with a much needed, long overdue reminder of what those contributions were.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Digital Codes
Illustration(s): Modern Barcode, Fu Xi (伏羲), Bouvet/Leibniz I Ching Diagram, Gottfried Wilhelm Liebniz
Author(s): David Lee, Joseph Kim
Affiliation: I Ching
Publication Date: 2001
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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