© 2019

Feng Shui: Teaching About Science and Pseudoscience

  • Is the only comprehensive educational examination of feng shui

  • Offers a historical cultural narrative intertwined with philosophy of science

  • Presents a detailed defence of the coherence and utility of the concept of pseudoscience

  • Discusses key episodes in the engagement of Chinese culture with Western science

  • Documents the role of science and politics in the modernization of China


Part of the Science: Philosophy, History and Education book series (SPHE)

Table of contents

  1. Back Matter
    Pages 299-340

About this book


This book provides a richly documented account of the historical, cultural, philosophical and practical dimensions of feng shui. It argues that where feng shui is entrenched educational systems have a responsibility to examine its claims, and that this examination provides opportunities for students to better learn about the key features of the nature of science, the demarcation of science and non-science, the characteristics of pseudoscience, and the engagement of science with culture and worldviews.  The arguments presented for feng shui being a pseudoscience can be marshalled when considering a whole range of comparable beliefs and the educational benefit of their appraisal.

Feng shui is a deeply-entrenched, three-millennia-old system of Asian beliefs and practices about nature, architecture, health, and divination that has garnered a growing presence outside of Asia. It is part of a comprehensive and ancient worldview built around belief in chi (qi) the putative universal energy or life-force that animates all existence, the cosmos, the solar system, the earth, and human bodies. Harmonious living requires building in accord with local chi streams; good health requires replenishment and manipulation of internal chi flow; and a beneficent afterlife is enhanced when buried in conformity with chi directions. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the proper manipulation of internal chi by acupuncture, tai-chi and qigong exercise, and herbal dietary supplements. 

Matthews has produced another tour de force that will repay close study by students, scientists, and all those concerned to understand science, culture, and the science/culture nexus.

Harvey Siegel, Philosophy, University of Miami, USA


With great erudition and even greater fluidity of style, Matthews introduces us to this now-world-wide belief system.

Michael Ruse, Philosophy, Florida State University, USA


The book is one of the best research works published on Feng Shui. 

Wang Youjun, Philosophy, Shanghai Normal University, China

The history is fascinating.  The analysis makes an important contribution to science literature.

James Alcock, Psychology, York University, Canada

This book provides an in-depth study of Feng Shui in different periods, considering its philosophical, historical and educational dimensions; especially from a perspective of the ‘demarcation problem’ between science and pseudoscience.

Yao Dazhi, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China


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Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

About the authors

Michael R. Matthews is an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales.  He has degrees in Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Education and History and Philosophy of Science.  He has authored six books, edited nine anthologies, contributed forty book chapters, and published fifty journal articles in philosophy of education, history and philosophy of science, and science education.  Different of his books have been translated into Greek, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish and Korean.  He was Foundation Editor of the Springer journal Science & Education: Contributions from the History and Philosophy of Science.  He was awarded the Joseph H. Hazen Education Prize of the History of Science Society (USA) in recognition of his contributions to the teaching of history of science.  He has served as President of the International History, Philosophy and Science Teaching Group, and President of the Inter-Divisional Teaching Commission of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science.  He served two terms as an alderman on the Council of the City of Sydney.

Bibliographic information


“This book is a tour de force. Its careful and wide-ranging scholarship makes it an essential text across the fields of history, philosophy, and sociology of science as well as science education. It should be read by all academics undertaking research on qi-based knowledge systems, especially TCM. It is also hoped that the present-day practitioners of such systems take Matthews’ arguments into consideration.” (Michael John Paton, Science & Education, Vol. 30, 2021)