Abstract Roger Ames

Nathan Sivin has famously observed that “man’s prodigious creativity seems to be based on the permutations and recastings of a rather small stock of ideas.” I will argue that two such ideas are a contrast that can be drawn between classical Greek substance ontology as “the science of being in itself” and what I will call “zoetology” (shengshenglun 生生論) as “the art of living” in Confucian process cosmology. In the Book of Changes (Yijing 易經) we find a vocabulary making explicit a range of cosmological assumptions that provide the interpretive context for the Confucian canons by locating them within a holistic, organic, and ecological worldview. This cosmology begins from “living” (sheng 生) itself as the motive force behind a continuing process of change, and gives us a world of boundless “becomings.” Although this contrast takes us back to a small stock of ideas, its implications in thinking about the human relationship to its environment are legion.