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Philosophy and Culture
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Metaphysics Analysis of Chinese Traditional Physical Practice: the Case Study of Qi / Метафизический анализ китайской традиционной физической практики: тематическое исследование Ци

Чжоу Чжэньхуа

ORCID: 0000-0003-2186-9170

кандидат философских наук

аспирант, философский факультет, Уральский федеральный университет

620078, Россия, Свердловская область область, г. Екатеринбург, ул. Комсомольская, 70

Zhou Zhenhua

PhD in Philosophy

Graduate student, Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, Ural Federal University

620078, Russia, Sverdlovsk region, Yekaterinburg, Komsomolskaya str., 70
Другие публикации этого автора

Цзивэй Ван

магистр, Английский факультет, Спортивно-гуманитарный и социологический колледж, Харбинский спортивный университет

150008, Китай, провинция Хэйлунцзян, г. Харбин, р-Н нанган, ул. Дачэн, 1

Tszivei Van

Master Degree, English Department of Sports Humanities and Sociology College, Harbin Sport University

150008, China, Heilongjiang Province, Harbin, Nangang district, Dacheng str., 1
Никитин Сергей Александрович

доцент, Уральский федеральный университет имени первого Президента России Б.Н. Ельцина

620002, Россия, г. Екатеринбург, ул. Мира, 19

Nikitin Sergei Aleksandrovich

Associate professor, Department of Philosophy of Humanities College Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B.N. Yeltsin

620002, Russia, Yekaterinburg, Mira str., 19
Али Радар Хамид

аспирант, Уральский федеральный университет имени первого Президента России Б.Н. Ельцина

620002, Россия, г. Екатеринбург, ул. Мира, 19

Ali Radar Khamid Ali

Postgraduate, Department of Social Philosophy of Humanities College, Ural Federal University named after the first President of Russia B.N. Yeltsin

620002, Russia, Yekaterinburg, Mira str., 19





Дата направления статьи в редакцию:


Дата публикации:


Аннотация: В последние годы наблюдается бум изучения И-Цзин (Книги Перемен) и древних китайских форм физических упражнений в европейских странах, таких как Германия, Бельгия и Франция, с темами исследований, сосредоточенными на психотерапевтических и медицинских клинических экспериментальных исследованиях. Так, исследование, проведенное в Институте психологии Тюбингенского университета в Германии, в котором подчеркивалось, что умеренная общая физиологическая активация, зависящая от упражнений с регуляцией сердечного ритма может вызывать типичное состояние спокойствия. Существует несколько теоретических исследований метафизических аспектов существования таких полезных психофизиологических механизмов, лежащих в основе психофизиологических упражнений Florens (2021), поэтому в этой статье в качестве тематического исследования используется практика Ци, к которой относится классическое и систематическое использование психофизиологических механизмов в системах китайских боевых искусств, таких как тайцзицюань (тайчи), цигун и шаолиньцюань (шаолиньский бокс). Принят в основном документальный исследовательский подход; в этой статье используются классические теории И-цзина для анализа метафизического анализа физических упражнений, связанных с Ци. Выводы исследования показывают, что: во-первых, можно использовать традиционные китайские методы и практический опыт; во-вторых, классическая теория И-цзин, использующая Ци как ядро практики, обогащает онтологию восприятия жизни человека в области философии; в-третьих, конечное стремление к жизни через практику Ци является конкретным проявлением метафизического целостного взгляда на жизнь в традиционных китайских физических упражнениях.

Ключевые слова:

метафизика, Yi Jing, Chinese people, Ци, Chis, Qigong, культура, Book of Changes, Yin and Yang, культура Китая

Abstract: In recent years there has been a boom in the study of the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes) and ancient Chinese forms of physical exercise in European countries such as Germany, Belgium and France, with research themes focusing on psychotherapeutic and medical clinical experimental studies, such as a study conducted at the Institute of Psychology at the University of Tübingen in Germany that emphasised that moderate general physiological activation, exercise-dependent regulation of the heart rhythm ANS can induce a typical state of calm to regulate Qi. There are few theoretical studies on the metaphysical aspects of the existence of such healthful and beneficial underlying psychophysiological mechanisms of mind-body exercise Florens(2021), so this paper chooses to use the practice of Qi as a case study, where Qi practice refers to the classical and systematic use in Chinese martial arts’ internal styles and systems such as Taijiquan (Taichi), Qigong and shaolinquan(Shaolin Boxing). A primarily documentary research approach is adopted, this paper using classical theories from the Yi Jing to analyse a metaphysical analysis of the physical exercises associated with Qi. The conclusions of the study show that: Firstly, Chinese traditional methods and practical experience can be drawn upon. Secondly, the classical theory of the Yi Jing, which uses Qi as the core of practice, enriches the ontology of human life perception in the field of philosophy. Thirdly, the ultimate pursuit of life through the practice of Qi is a concrete manifestation of the metaphysical holistic view of life in traditional Chinese physical exercises.


metaphysics, Yi Jing, Chinese people, Qi, Chis, Qigong, culture, Book of Changes, Yin and Yang, Chinese culture

1. Introduction

The Yi Jing( the Book of Changes or I Ching) is the source of Chinese culture, the first of the group of scriptures, and moreover the original of the Great Way. It is the most simple and classical knowledge of ancient Chinese people on nature and mankind. The whole book describes the changes and mysteries of the universe, the changes of Yin and Yang, the changes of profit and loss, etc. Unlike the ubiquitous change advocated by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, the changes described in the Yi Jing are illustrated by the "trigrams" and "images". For example, in the book, it is said: "Yi is in tune with heaven and earth, so it can bridge the ways of heaven and earth". The theory of knowledge in the Yi is therefore both ancient and modern in nature, including both ancient philosophical thought and scientific knowledge. Therefore, as Yi Jing writed: "The essence of meaning enters into the mind so that it can be used."

The ancient Chinese theory of Qigong is not only found in the Yi Jing( the Book of Changes or I Ching), but also in some medical works such as the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, ancient Taoist texts, as well as in the writings of Laozi, Zhuangzi, Analects, Mencius, The Doctrine of the Mean and other philosophical works of the past generations, in which important discussions on Qi are sufficiently made. If we trace our research from historical times, the earliest theories of ancient Qigong come from Hexagram Judgement of Yi Jing–Ken(《易经·艮卦·卦辞》)writed: "relax the back and feel beyond the body, like walking in one’s court, seeing nobody-keeping still, no blame.” (《艮卦·卦辞》曰:“艮其背,不获其身,行其庭,不见其人,无咎。”) The whole process is outlined in just sixteen short words, which both graphically and completely express the exercise rules, exercise responses and exercise benefits regarding the static and dynamic gong of the body. The phrase "relax the back and feel beyond the body(艮其背,不获其身)can be classified as static gong.“walking in one’s court, seeing nobody”(行其庭,不见其人)belongs to the category of dynamic work). The reasons for this are: “Ken(艮☶)” is the 52nd hexagram of the 64 hexagrams in theYi Jing, with the image as a mountain and the two mountains overlapping each other, indicating that Yang has risen to its extreme point and has the meaning of keeping still and untill peaceful. That is, Tuan said, “Ken, also keeping still. If you keep still when the time comes; you move when the time comes; If you don't lose your time in movement and stillness, your path is bright.”(即彖曰:“艮,止也。时止则止,时行则行;动静不失其时,其道光明。”).(Shouqi Huang,Shanwen Zhang,2010) This trigram signifies the Taoist (Lao Zhuan:the abbreviation of Lao Zi老子and Zhuang Zi庄子) idea about quietly mind, in which the metaphor of “walking in one's court and seeing nobody (行其庭,不见其人)” has a direct influence and effect on Zhuangzi's pursuit of the state of transcendency(both subject and object are dissoloved).

The key to maintaining a stable state of form lies in the back. If the back is still, the whole body cannot move even if it wants to; the key to maintaining a stable state of action lies in the heart, which is tranquil and not influenced by external circumstances, it will not move. This theory, when applied to physical practice, should be interpreted as the meaning of concentration in Qigong practice, i.e. the consciousness or mind is focused on the back. According to the theory of human anatomy, the back refers to the lumbosacral region of the human body, which is the ancient area of the Gate of Life. In ancient times, Qigong practitioners attached importance to the means of static gong exercise, “relax its back”(“艮其背”), when people sit in meditation, due to the concentration of ideas to achieve the degree of stillness and forgetting all, the ancient people called “sitting unworldly(坐忘)”, that is, the image writed: “like a mountain, it is Ken; the gentleman does not go out of his place with his thoughts(象曰:“兼山,艮;君子以思不出其位。”)”.

Kaibara Ekken suggests that the vitality of Qi is an emergent force that provides the philosophical basis not only for this dynamic interplay, but also for the study of the natural world, thus exploring the principles within things (Kaibara Ekken, 2007), Zhang Zai' s Philosophy of Qi: a parctical understanding focuses on Zhang Zai's development of a practical argument for Qi, comparing and integrating Zhang Zai's philosophy of Qi with Dewey's philosophy of aesthetic experience, and the author advocates that Zhang Zai's philosophy of nature is a materialist philosophy of Qi monism that should be revisited for its importance in Neo-Confucian thought (Jung -Yeup Kim, 2015).

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that aspires to provide the most general description of reality. It aims to interpret what exists, but at a more general and abstract level than that typical of practical science or, for that matter, daily life. It may ask, for example, whether there is one kind of being, two (as Descartes believed), or many. It may ask about the relations between very broad categories of entities.(As John Dupré, 2017)

As the most universally present in every human body and on which it depends, Qi is the source of life generated by the circulation of the body's blood and the work of its organs. In this book there are systematic and various levels and levels of statement of this universal existence and multiple existence (the quality and working capacity of Qi varies according to the different health conditions of the human body), the existence and high generalisation of entities other than Qi, for example, Yi JingThe Great Appendix writed: “Yi has Taiji, which origins of two primary forces, the two primary forces were origins of four images, and four images were origins of eight trigrams. The eight trigrams determine good and bad fortune, and good and bad fortune give rise to great deeds." (《易经•系辞上》说:“易有太极,是生两仪,两仪生四象,四象生八卦。八卦定吉凶,吉凶生大业。”)(Tiancai Yang,2016) This provides a progressive metaphysical definition of Chinese daily life and the most universal perceptions of life, relevant to the quality of human survival and reproduction, which are yet to be discovered and studied. As such, it provides an opportunity for this study.

2. Traceability analysis of Qi

2.1 Yi Jing and Qi

The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, one of the earliest Chinese medical texts, tells how to make people pass through the weather, the earth, and then be filled with the Qi of Hao Ran(浩然), Hao Ran mean vast and grand, and stand between heaven and earth for long life. One must not only breathe the Qi of heaven and earth, but also conform to nature and achieve a balance of Yin and Yang. In Chapter 25 Bao Ming Quan Xing Lun(《宝命全形论篇第二十五》), the two most prominent figures outline their theoretical, i.e. practical, understanding of the human body and Qi, and both present their own theories, such as Emperor Huang, who said: “Heaven overlaps earth, all things are ready, and nothing is more valuable than Man, who comes to life through the Qi of heaven and earth, and he matures in accordance with the law of the four seasons (天覆地载,万物悉备,莫贵于人,人以天地之气生,四时之法成).” Qibo said, “Man was born on the earth and ruled by the heaven; heaven and earth unite with the Qi and the combination is called Man. (夫人生于地,悬命于天,天地合气,命之曰人)”Both of these famous figures emphasize that the human body cannot exist alone without Qi, and that the importance of Qi is the only way to maintain the health and durability of life, reaching a metaphysical and practical height of both form and spirit.“image, number, reason”are the important three parts in Yi Jing,it is a high level overview and summary of the different manifestations and forms of human beings, society, nature, etc. It is a rendition and interpretation of the regularity of Yin and Yang, Heaven, Earth and Human beings over times. In Yi Jing there are 64 trigrams, each consisting of 6 lines(爻), and thus 64 trigrams times 6 lines means 384 lines. Remove the 24 lines from the four main trigrams of Li, Kan, Zhen and Tui(离、坎、震、兑) to equal 360 lines. If we take into account the "leap numbers", 360 coincides with the 365 days of the year. The word Qirefers to the result of a change, but also to the direction and trend of the change.

Each of the 360 lines represents a particular day of the year, and the Qi changes every day and every hour of the year. The Qi here refers to Yin and Yang, namely two primary forces(两仪), the division of the Taiji to form heaven and earth, and the earlier use of the concept of "Taiji" is outlined in the "Yi Chuan" 意拳(Xingyi Quan)and the earlier use of the concept of "Taiji" was outlined in Yi Jing and Zhuangzi, in terms of cosmology and methodology, namely:“易有太极,是生两仪。两仪生四象,四象生八卦。”(Yi has Taiji, which were origins of two primary forces, the two primary forces were origins of four images, and four images were origins of eight trigrams.) This means that the process of forming trigrams begins with Taiji, before the separation of the yarrow (which is used as a tool for divination), and after the separation of the yarrow, the two lines of Yin and Yang are formed, known as the two yi. Two lines added together, there are four signs, known as the four images. By adding one line each of them, they become the eight trigrams, which elaborate and interpret the process of drawing the eight trigrams and various phenomena, the process of development of things. And each has a symbol that represents it, they are“Wu Chi(无极)”:○ ;“Taiji(太极)”:☯,it generally refers to the most primitive state of order in the universe, appearing after the chaotic period of undivided Yin and Yang (Wuji), which then forms the origin of all things (the universe);Two primary forces(两仪):Yin and Yang , yin line(阴爻):⚋; yang line(阳爻):⚊;Four images:great yang(太阳):⚌, lesser yin(少阴):⚍, lesser yang(少阳):⚎, great yin(太阴):⚏;eight trigrams(八卦):four directions spatially, namely east, south, west and north; four seasons temporally, namely spring, summer, autumn and winter.

乾 兑 离 震 巽 坎 艮 坤

Ch’ien Tui Li Chen Sun K’an Ken K’un

☰ ☱ ☲ ☳ ☴ ☵ ☶ ☷

Following this logical basis and the relationship between things, the ancient Chinese of the agrarian period,it divided the four seasons of the year into 24 Qi(energy), with a total of 24 hexagrams, each representing a Qi. The initial eight trigrams or 64 trigrams represent the ancient understanding and interpretation of time and space during the Xia period, as shown in the diagram, which is both vivid and graphic, and after Shennong's refinement and evolution, each trigram was combined with Yin and Yang, seasons, festivals and climate, making it more intuitive and easy to guide the production and life of the ancient people during the agricultural period, and making agricultural production smoother and more effective. It also made it possible to avoid harm in life. The combination of “trigram”and “Qi” allows the use of each trigram to express the static and dynamic characteristics of Yin and Yang in opposition to each other, thus helping people to gain insight and judge the fortunes of time. Gua Qi, is the most essential unit of Yi, representing the symbol of the appearance of all things in the world, and the natural material elements there is a corresponding correspondence, overlap and generate the 64 hexagrams, Qi is a "Yin" and a "Yang" combination in a thing of two opposing properties, Qi is the combination of two opposing attributes of one Yin and one Yang in something. The combination of "trigrams"and Qi refers to the use of the eight trigrams in the Yi Jing to express the static and dynamic properties of Yin and Yang opposites in a given thing.

According to the picture above concepts of time, space and logic, the ancient Chinese during the agrarian period began to take an interest in the human body and explored it for a long period of time due to the conditions of health, disease, diet and other matters, gradually generating the knowledge and understanding of the Qi mechanism of the human body during their continuous exploration, generalising and summarising the corresponding theories according to their instincts and the state of natural laws, and eventually creating a perfect classical theory and practical system of Qi was eventually created.

It is important to clarify,although this study is conducted using Qi as a case study, it does not mean that my position and views are "Qi-only", but rather it is a tribute to the Chinese scholars who have studied the true meaning of ancient classical Chinese philosophy and expresses some of the thoughts and understandings that I have learnt over the years on the subject.

2.2 The Evolution of Different Forms of the word Qi

Qi" (qì Chinese pinyin or mandarin phonetic symbols, some English expressions Chi in Europe and the United States) is one of the important elements in classical Chinese philosophy and has been applied in different disciplines and established theories with disciplinary attributes, including the theory of Yuan Qi (元气) in Chinese medicine theory, due to the influence of the theory of Yi Jing, divides Qi into metaphysical, it is the lower form of Qi that can be directly perceived by the senses, and the higher form of Qi that is sublimated by the imagination and thinking, and is constantly changing. The concepts of "Qi(气)", "Image(象)" and "Evidence(证)" have thus evolved and are applied to the theory and practice of Qi. They are used in the theory and practice of Qi, illustrating the connections and distinctions between them in different dimensions.

The ancient Chinese believed that Qi was the root of all life in the universe, for example, in the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, Su Wen, it is said that "Qi begins and is born, while Qi disperses and takes form(气始而生化,气散而有形)”, and in Zhuangzi, it is said that the birth of man is the gathering of Qi, and if it is gathered, it is born, while if it disperses, it is dead.(人之生,气之聚也,聚则为生,散则为死). Zhang Jinyue of the Ming Dynasty further pointed out that the way of biochemistry is based on righteousness and Qi. (生化之道,义气为本,天地万物,莫不由之,人之有生,全赖此气) Influenced by the level of social development at that time, when these ancient simple philosophical ideas were unified in all aspects and entered different disciplines, they were applied and evolved to form the theoretical basis and core of a certain discipline, such as the " thoery of qihua (气化论) " in the field of Chinese medicine and “Theory of Taijiquan”(太极拳论) in the field of physical exercise. For example, the theory of Qihua in the field of Chinese medicine, the theory of Taijiquan and the theory of fitness Qigong in the field of physical exercise, and the theory of Dantian(丹田论) together with the theory of Meditation(禅定论) in the field of religion are discussed.

The item Qi includes:ying Qi(营气), wei Qi(卫气), zong Qi(宗气), vital Qi(元气), innate Qi(先天气), acquired Qi(后天气), 真气(true Qi), visceral Qi(脏腑气), meridian-collateral Qi(经络气) and so on. The operation and movement of Qi(行气) refers mainly to true qi and its effects, which is the product of the combination of the body's vital energy with the essence of the water and grains of the latter and natural air(Simiao Sun,Tang Dynasty,2012). True Qi is the product of the combination of the body's vital energy with the essence of water, grain and natural air, as stated in Ling Shu: "True Qi is received from the sky and grain gas, and fills the body", which shows the correlation of the body's true qi and the biochemical "Qi ". The process of exercising Qi includes: breathing, exhalation, channeling, etc. In exercising qi, there are also different names for breathing, yawning, specialising Qi, eating Qi, swallowing Qi, swallowing Qi, nourishing qi, practising qi, regulating qi, etc. All these are within the scope of Qi practice. The “Qigong”, “Tai Chi”, traditional boxing and other representative physical exercises of modern times have all evolved from the ancient “Qigong” from the ancient.

In Taoist cultivation, one breath is one inhalation, one exhalation is yin and one exhalation is yang, breath and Yin and Yang are both a form of Tao and an expression. One word for Qi does not cover everything, so there are other words with the same pronunciation, used to represent Qi in different periods and media, written in Chinese characters as“炁”,“氣”,“焏”(the same pronunciation), each of which represents a metaphysical and mystical energy. The term “炁” refers to the innate Qi, mostly found in Taoist writings, which can be understood as the beginning of life, the source of life, formed in the mother's womb, is the most basic energy and physiological functions that constitute the human body and maintain life activities, from “with one air to produce all things” in “Guan Yin Zi - Six Daggers”(《关尹子·六匕篇》:“以一炁生万物”); and from “Five Tibetan produce five air” in “Laozi Tao Te Ching Preface” (《老子道德经序诀》:“五藏生五炁”)。 The word Qi is a traditional Chinese character that refers to the acquired qi, which can be understood as Qi and rice, representing the Qi that sustains human life through the five grains. The Taoists use “Qi(炁)” to represent the innate and “Qi(氣)” to represent the acquired, so the two meanings are separated, and Taoism advocates that “one Qi transforms three clearings”, and that Qi does not leave the body and the body does not leave the Qi. They cannot leave each othe. In other words, the Tao Te Ching writed: “All things carry Yin and Yang, and the air is an impulsive Qi for harmony.” In summary, according to the evolution of Qi in different historical periods, it reflects the fact that the ancient Chinese had both specific means of practice and detailed guiding theories for the human body, physiological functions and spiritual pursuits.

3.The Clarification of Classical Theory

3.1. The Evolution from Rules of Tao to Techniques of Physical of Art

There are many records of Qi in Chinese literature from the pre-Qin period, such as “the air of heaven and earth, no one can lose its order ” in “Guo Yu·Zhou Yu”(《国语·周语》). There are also many records of Qi in the Zuo Zhuan(《左传》), such as “there are six Qi in the sky, which descend to produce five tastes, develop into five colours, and conquer into five sounds, and produce six diseases. The six Qi are said to be Yin, Yang, Wind, Rain, Darkness and Brightness.” in “Zuo Zhuan - Zao A.D.. These six Qi can also be understood as six kind of energy forces. Qi(炁) is both the origin of the creation of everything in the universe and the basic energy that keeps everything in the universe going, an endless stream of invisible energy. The term Qiand 'Qigong' appeared in Xu Xun's writings “Religious Pure and Bright Records” and “Spiritual Jianzi” in the Jin dynasty, and people interpreted and expressed this in different ways in different eras. In the Mencius, for example, the term “cultivating the mind” and “nurturing the nature” focuses on nurturing the Great Qi; in the Xunzi, “the art of treating Qi and nurturing life” links Qi to spiritual cultivation. Zhang Zai (1020-1077) wrote an important philosophical work, called Zhengmeng, through his exegesis of Yi Jing (the Book of Changes), in whichhe established Qi as the highest philosophical category and built a systematic philosophical system of Qi theory, such as “The one thing with two bodies is Qi” in “Zhengmeng·Canliang”(《正蒙·参两》) and “The invisible Taixu is the essence of Qi, and its gathering and dispersal are the object forms of change.” in “Zhengmeng·Taihe”(《正蒙·太和》).

In the 1950s Mr. Liu Guizhen from Beidaihe(北戴河), Qinhuangdao (秦皇岛), Hebei Province(河北省), published The Practice of Qigong Therapy, which gradually became known to modern people, explaining Qigong as the exercise of breathing movements. Obviously, in the history of the development of Qi, people's description and application of Qi is not limited to the breathing of gases and the exercise of breathing movements in the human body, but has a broader meaning, such as the introduction to holistic theory of life.

An active practitioner of the ancient method of Xing Qi exercise was Yan Hui, a disciple of Confucius, who recorded in “Zhuangzi - The Great Master”: “I have gained progress!” he said. “What is also meant by that?” Confucius asked. “I sit still and forget all.” He answered. Confucius added, “What is meant by sitting still and forgetting all?”. Yan Hui continued, “degenerate the limbs, depose the wisdom, free from the form and knowledge, and then into the same state as the Great Harmony (Daitong) this is called sitting still and forgetting all.” And the most efficient ultimate rule that can be achieved by completing this process is summed up in Great Learning: “After knowing the stop, one can fix it; after fixing, one can be quiet; after being quiet, one can be at peace; after being at peace, one can think; after thinking, one can gain.” Through this process, we complete the beginning of Qi exercise and achieve “stopping”, and through “fixing, stillness, peace and consideration” we achieve “gaining”, i.e. through physical exercise, we achieve health and longevity. According to the needs of practice, Chinese medicine divides Qi into innate Qi and acquired Qi. There are three levels: firstly, vital Qi, zong Qi, ying Qi and gui Qi; secondly, the Qi of the internal organs and meridians; and thirdly, the yang and yin Qi of the internal organs (Hao Rui,2008). In summary, ancient Chinese philosophers not only incorporated the practice of Qi into their philosophical theories, but also used the theories sublimated through practice to guide the cultivation of Qi and the pursuit of a higher metaphysical and spiritual level.

3.2. Theoretical Clarification of Specific Practice

There have been many contributions and studies on the subject by scholars throughout history, and the purpose of this paper is to summarise the more widely circulated scholars and works. In their metaphysical theories related to Qi, these scholars have not only elaborated on the ontology of Qi, but have also continued to refine the epistemology of Qi, which is based on objective facts, a summary of objective things and concrete experiences created by the ancient Chinese through practice.

The concept of Qi emerged, developed and evolved from the observations and experiences of ancient Chinese people as they struggled and integrated with life and nature. With the development of society and human progress and the continuous exploration of the material world, people have outlined and summarised the derivation of the concept of Qi, and the same word has taken on both energetic and denotative meanings, as well as enriching the connotations and extensions of a word at different levels. For example, the connotations of the humanities, the connotations of medicine, the connotations of physical exercise, etc., associated with Qi. Constantly expanded and again enriched and developed, this paper therefore focuses on the analysis of the connotation of physical exercise, discussing separately the establishment of the idea of a metaphysics about Qi set according to the highest pursuit of the practice.

The earliest and most complete treatise on the use of Qi in physical exercise is the “Xing Qi jade pendant inscription”, which has been dated to the Warring States period (380 BC) and is carved on a dodecahedral, green jade, prismatic jade saker 玉琮(cóng). It is several thousand years old, with a total of 45 characters in seal script, and was found as a companion piece during excavations at Mawangdui, Changsha, in 1975, and is now in the Tianjin Museum[1], China.

This is the earliest record of Qigong found in China, and is also the earliest documentary record of ancient Chinese medical theory, and is the earliest exercise method to practice movement of Qi. It is the oldest and most important monograph on Qigong. The inscription is inscribed in the San Dai Ji Jin Wen Cun, vol. 20, p. 49, and reads: “When Qi is exercised, deep storage is gained; when the storage is stretched downwards, the stretch is rooted and fortified; then when Qi is sprouted upwards, the sprout is absorbed back in the start and Qi is circulated in harmony. When Qi is vitally exercised above through Du meridians and below through Ren meridians, If it is exerised obediently, life will last long; if not, life will decay.” The famous Chinese scholar Guo Moruo has interpreted and ambitiously explained the “Green Jade Ornament with Inscription on the Circulation of Qi”in his article“The Dialectical Development of Ancient Writing” (see Archaeology, 1972, no. 3; and in Guo Moruo's book The Age of Slavery, 1973 edition, p. 262.)

In the Eastern Han Dynasty, WangYun put forward the idea that the thickness of one's endowment determined the length of one's life in The Analects of Heng; Zhang Zhongjing张仲景(150-219) proposed prudent nourishment, while Hua Tuo 华佗(145-208) stressed the importance of physical exercise and created the method of fitness in Five-Animal Exercises. In Laozi, there is a reference to the exhalation technique of “shushing or blowing”. In the Zhuangzi, there is "blowing and breathing, exhaling the old and naming the new, like the bear’s climbing and the bird’s stretching, just for longevity.” These are the earliest and most mature methods of practising the movement of Qi, and what is meant by mature here are two aspects: on the one hand, mature theoretical guidance, and on the other hand, extensive practical experience.

In Nan Hua Jing, Zhuangzi presents two methods of practice: “Heart Fasting” and “Sitting still and Forgetting all”, which are respectively a Taoist system of practice, a whole system of worldviews and methods of practice with their own characteristics, rather than a simple method of cultivation. “Heart Fasting” refers to Zhuangzi's method of listening to the breath, to the inhalation and exhalation of one's heart. “Sitting still and Forgetting all”refers to Yan Hui's saying “degenerate the limbs, depose the wisdom, free from the form and knowledge, and then into the same state as the Great Harmony(Daitong)”, By sitting still, one realizes the "separation of form from knowledge", where "form" refers to the innate form; "knowledge" refers to the discernment of the imaginary images manifested in the world of emptiness. The ultimate aim is to achieve the existence described in "between heaven and earth, and beyond the eight senses of sight and sound” from “Treatise on the Ancient Heaven and Truth”. Thus, Zhuangzi concludes his practice of Qi by saying, “There is an end to my life; and there is no end to knowledge.” The content and duration of human life is limited, while the boundaries of human perception are infinite and without borders, implying the need to respect and love life, to follow nature and to care for it.

Mencious outlined the ideal state of Qi and proposed a “Righteous Qi” that applies to people and things, as he put it in “Mencius Gongsun Chou Shang”: “I know the words, I am good at nurturing the Qi of Hao. It is the greatest and strongest Qi; if it is cultivated in a straightforward manner without harm, then it will be stored between heaven and earth. It is also a Qi that matches righteousness and the Way.” Following the original meaning of things and focusing on shaping the Hao Ran Qi in the course of daily practice.

Ge Hong (葛洪, Jin Dynasty of China) summarised the writings of scholars who had studied Qi and methods of nourishing the body before the Eastern Jin Dynasty, thus writing Baopu Zi 《抱朴子》, and creating a set of methods for nourishing, storing and eating Qi, which belonged to the product of the comprehensive application of all the learned minds. Later on, Wang Yun (王允Han Dynasty of China) was influenced to put forward in his book On Heng《论衡》- Dao Xiu 《道修》: “A real person eats Qi and feeds on it, so the traditional rules wirted that he act as the rules of Qi so that lives long and does not to die.”

As theories were put forward, these scholars also continued to refine their methods of practice, thus concluding a methodology with their own claims and creative method to practice in subjective characteristics, but the ultimate aim tended to be unified, namely: “if you want to live a long life you must know the way to maintain your health, focusing on maintaining your essence and spirit, and through the operation of Qi and the methods of practice to achieve the purpose of nourishing and practising Qi, leading to a long life time to live.”

4. Applications in modern society

As an important part of traditional Chinese culture, the exploration and study of Qi has not stopped due to political, historical and economic developments, and it has stood the test of time and the test of nations. As the times have changed, it has taken on different roles. It has many social functions in its own right, the most notable being the cultivation of the body and fitness, with the focus on the cultivation of the body in ancient Chinese society and the application in modern society focusing on people's daily fitness and leisure. From the observation, exploration and knowledge of Qi to the creation and use of a series of gong methods in modern society, especially when incorporated into the field of sports by the State General Administration of Sports, it has been promoted as a sport in society. For example, according to the policies and measures of the China Fitness Qigong Association, the number of practitioners has now reached different countries around the world, with as many as 100,000 enthusiasts worldwide participating in the practice on World Fitness Qigong Day each year.

It has become an independent and sound discipline in the Beijing University of Physical Education and Sports, and in 2001 it formally started the creation of new gong methods such as Fitness Qigong - Yi Jin Jing, Five-Animal Exercises, Six Character Techniques and Ba Duan Jin Exercises, and its creation system has been continuously improved and the number of gong methods has increased. It has been proven that the theory and practice of metaphysical physical exercise with Qi as a case study is constantly developing, maturing and growing.

Unlike developments in China in recent years, in those countries such as the UK, Germany, Belgium and France the teaching and dissemination of fitness Qigong and Qi culture in the form of clubs or associations have emerged, and they would consider it a cultural vehicle worth spending a lifetime studying and researching, while it rarely occurs in China, where some enthusiasts would practise in individual form in city parks or at home, for historical reasons. The means of physical practice regarding Qi is neither empty[2] and not invisible, but can be felt by metaphysical thinking and by the basic constituents of the human body (blood, sweat, etc.).

5. Conclusion and Discussion of the Study

The findings of the study show that: Firstly,the traditional Chinese method of physical exercise using Qi as a means of practice is not blind, but has a theoretical basis and practical experience to draw upon. Secondly,the classical theory of the Yi Jing, which uses Qi as the core of practice, has enriched the ontology of human life perception in the field of philosophy. Thirdly, the ultimate pursuit of life with Qi as the pathway of practice is a concrete manifestation of the metaphysics of traditional Chinese physical practice.


Through the combing of this study, I would like to initiate two discussions along this research: Firstly, how to compare and contrast the research vectors on metaphysics produced in different cultural contexts? Secondly, how can different art forms based on Chinese traditional culture be used as vehicles for constructing theories of metaphysics that belong to this ontology? It is hoped that these will also provide a possibility for future research directions in the field, and there a corresponding academic contribution will be made to enrich research in this field.


1.The official website of Tian Jing Museum:

战国 青玉“行气铭”文饰Green Jade Ornament with Inscription on the Circulation of Qi.;

2.In the application of the main technique of breathing in Qigong and meditation, Professor Desbo, a well-known French Sinologist from the School of Oriental Languages in Paris, proposed that Qiis close to the word "empty" in Greek.

[1] 战国 青玉“行气铭”文饰Green Jade Ornament with Inscription on the Circulation of Qi.

[2] In the application of the main technique of breathing in Qigong and meditation, Professor Desbo, a well-known French Sinologist from the School of Oriental Languages in Paris, proposed that Qiis close to the word "empty" in Greek.

1. Shouqi Huang,Shanwen Zhang.(2010).Translation and annotation of Yi Jing.Shanghai:Shanghai Ancient Books Press.pp.8-13(in Chinese)
2. Simiao Sun(Tang Dynasty)(2012).Traditional Chinese medicine annotation of Yi Jing.Beijing:Jiuzhou Books Press.pp.5-8(in Chinese)
3. Tiancai Yang.(2016).Yi Jing( the Book of Changes or I Ching).Beijing:Zhonghua Book Company.pp.10-12(in Chinese)
4. Goldbeck Florens etc. Relaxation or Regulation: The Acute Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Heart Rate Variability and Subjective State in Experienced Qi Gong Practitioners. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2021(1).1-14. English)
5. Dupré John.The Metaphysics of Evolution.Interface Focus.2017(7).pp.1-9. English)
6. Galia Patt-Shamir. Kim,Jung-Yeup:Zhang Zai’s Philosophy of Qi:A Parctical Understanding.Dao (2018) 17:429-434. English)
7. Hao Rui,Sun Lijun.The Origin and Connotation Analysis of the Concept of Qi.Journal of Shaanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine,2008(01):8-9.(in Chinese)
8. Ekken Kaibara, Mary Evelyn Tucker. The Philosophy of Qi: The Record of Great Doubts. Columbia University Press, 2007. pp.10-76. English)
1. Shouqi Huang,Shanwen Zhang.(2010).Translation and annotation of Yi Jing.Shanghai:Shanghai Ancient Books Press.pp.8-13(in Chinese)
2. Simiao Sun(Tang Dynasty)(2012).Traditional Chinese medicine annotation of Yi Jing.Beijing:Jiuzhou Books Press.pp.5-8(in Chinese)
3. Tiancai Yang.(2016).Yi Jing( the Book of Changes or I Ching).Beijing:Zhonghua Book Company.pp.10-12(in Chinese)
4. Goldbeck Florens etc. Relaxation or Regulation: The Acute Effect of Mind-Body Exercise on Heart Rate Variability and Subjective State in Experienced Qi Gong Practitioners. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2021(1).1-14. English)
5. Dupré John.The Metaphysics of Evolution.Interface Focus.2017(7).pp.1-9. English)
6. Galia Patt-Shamir. Kim,Jung-Yeup:Zhang Zai’s Philosophy of Qi:A Parctical Understanding.Dao (2018) 17:429-434. English)
7. Hao Rui,Sun Lijun.The Origin and Connotation Analysis of the Concept of Qi.Journal of Shaanxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine,2008(01):8-9.(in Chinese)
8. Ekken Kaibara, Mary Evelyn Tucker. The Philosophy of Qi: The Record of Great Doubts. Columbia University Press, 2007. pp.10-76. English)

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В журнал «Философия и культура» автор представил свою статью «Метафизический анализ китайской традиционной физической практики: тематическое исследование ци», в которой проведено исследование сущности и развитии древнекитайского учения о неразрывности материальной и духовной составляющих функционирования и совершенствования человеческого тела. Статья написана на английском языке.
Автор исходит в изучении данного вопроса из того, что традиционный китайский метод физических упражнений, основанием которого служит учение о ци, имеет глубокую теоретическую основу и долгий практический опыт. Философским обоснованием физической практики является онтологическая классическая теория И Цзин. Следовательно, как отмечает автор, стремление к жизни с Ци и является метафизическим проявлением традиционной китайской физической практики.
Методологическую базу исследования составил комплексный подход, содержащий философский, исторический и социокультурный анализ.
Целью данного исследования является философский анализ древнекитайской оздоровительной системы и возможностей ее современного практического применения.
Как определяет автор, метафизика является отраслью философии, которая стремится обеспечить наиболее общее описание реальности. Она направлена на интерпретацию того, что существует, но на более общем и абстрактном уровне, чем характерно для практической науки или повседневной жизни. В связи с данным определением автор исследует древнекитайское учение И Цзин как источник китайской культуры, первый священный текст и основу философии Великого Пути. Оно описывает представления народа о тайнах Вселенной, распределения жизненной энергии, основных вехах человеческого развития.
Изучая древнекитайские учения, исследовавшие сущность понятия Ци, автор отмечает, что данный концепт с древнейших времен является объектом изучения таких философов как Лао-Цзы, Чжан Цзай, Чжуан-Цзы, Конфуция, Мэн-Цзы и др. По мнению автора, древние китайские философы не только включили практику Ци в свои философские теории, но также использовали теории, сублимированные через практику, чтобы направлять развитие Ци и стремление к более высокому метафизическому и духовному уровню.
Автор констатирует неразрывность и единство древнекитайской медицины и философии в вопросах определения Ци как жизненно важной энергии, являющейся источником гармоничного существования человека и его здоровья. Автором детально проанализирован древнекитайский трактат «Трактат Желтого императора о внутреннем» с точки зрения изучения важности Ци в здоровом развитии человека.
Исследуя космологическое направление изучения Ци, автор отмечает, что уже в аграрный период своего развития древние китайцы начали проявлять интерес к человеческому телу и исследовали его в течение длительного периода времени из-за состояния здоровья, болезней, питания и других вопросов, постепенно генерируя знания и понимание механизма Ци человеческого тела в ходе их непрерывного исследования, обобщения и суммирования.
Анализируя современные философские труды, посвященные изучению концепта Ци, автор выделяет труд «Практика Цигун-терапии», разработанный в 1950-х годах китайским врачом Лю Гуйчжэнем, практикующим традиционную медицину, и работы известного китайского ученого Го Можо («Диалектическое развитие древней письменности»).
Особое внимание автор уделяет изучению возможности научного анализа и практического применения древнего учения о Ци. По мнению автора, данное учение будет интересно всем, кто практикует здоровый образ жизни и следит за состоянием своего организма. Практика Цигун стала отдельной научной дисциплиной в Пекинском университете физического воспитания и спорта.
В заключении автором представлен вывод по проведенному исследованию, в котором приведены все ключевые положения изложенного материала. Автором также предложены направления для дальнейшего изучения проблематики: сравнение и сопоставление векторов исследований по метафизике в различных культурных контекстах; возможности применения различных форм искусства, основанных на китайской традиционной культуре, в качестве средств для построения теорий метафизики в онтологическом направлении.
Представляется, что автор в своем материале затронул актуальные и интересные для современного социогуманитарного знания вопросы, избрав для анализа тему, рассмотрение которой в научно-исследовательском дискурсе повлечет определенные изменения в сложившихся подходах и направлениях анализа проблемы, затрагиваемой в представленной статье.
Полученные результаты позволяют утверждать, что изучение уникальной культуры и философских учений определенного народа, влияния его материального и духовного культурного наследия на мировое сообщество представляет несомненный теоретический и практический культурологический интерес и может служить источником дальнейших исследований.
Представленный в работе материал имеет четкую, логически выстроенную структуру, способствующую более полноценному усвоению материала. Этому способствует и адекватный выбор методологической базы. Библиографический список исследования состоит из 8 источников, что представляется достаточным для обобщения и анализа научного дискурса по исследуемой проблематике. Автор выполнил поставленную цель, получил определенные научные результаты, позволившие обобщить материал. Следует констатировать: статья может представлять интерес для читателей и заслуживает того, чтобы претендовать на опубликование в авторитетном научном издании.