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Matteo Ricci: A Sixteenth-Century Appraisal of Feng Shui

  • Michael R. Matthews
Chapter
Part of the Science: Philosophy, History and Education book series (SPHE)

Abstract

Matteo Ricci (1552–1610) was one of the first Europeans to give an informed and detailed appraisal of feng shui belief and practice in China. Ricci died in 1610 in Beijing where his grave is still maintained and respected. The centrality of science for the Jesuit Chinese mission has been recognized from the outset. Astronomy in China was a serious enterprise but was conducted largely for furthering Imperial (State) interests and for practical ends such as having a usable season-aligned calendar which itself was an indicator or manifestation of Imperial competence and virtue. Ricci’s mathematical, trigonometrical, astronomical, isoperimetric, cartographic, and chronological knowledge was taken up in a purely utilitarian way by the Chinese court and mandarins. The fraud, hucksterism, deceit, and exploitation of people’s credulity that Ricci observed have remained a constant in the feng shui tradition down to the contemporary internet age. Ricci’s life and writings provide fertile material for cross-disciplinary study. Teachers and students of geography, history, religion, philosophy, and science can all collaborate in selecting threads of the rich Ricci tapestry and appropriately investigating them.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Matthews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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