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The Emergence of the Notion of Predetermined Fate in Early China

  • Yunwoo SongEmail author


This essay depicts the emergence of the notion of predetermined fate in early China by focusing on the changing meaning of the word ming 命. Many scholars have long interpreted the term ming in the Lunyu 論語 as a kind of inevitable fate, but I show that it is still subject to change depending on the will of an anthropomorphic Heaven. In the Warring States period, however, Heaven became increasingly conceived as following fixed patterns in its behavior, and the growing belief in the validity of these patterns lead to the idea that the course of the future is more or less fixed and predictable. I argue that the idea of predetermined and predictable ming was a result of these changed conceptions of Heaven and the future.


Ming 命 Fate Predetermination Prediction Heaven 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yuelu AcademyHunan UniversityChangshaP.R. China

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