William MATTHEWS is Fellow in the Anthropology of China at the London School of Economics, where he teaches on the MSc China in Comparative Perspective. He researches divination and cosmology in contemporary and early China, with a view to understanding what these tell us about belief, reasoning, cultural transmission, and the politics of legitimate knowledge.

The Yijing Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism with Chinese Characteristic

Since the early days of economic reform in the 1980s, China has witnessed a revival of religious beliefs and practices. One of the most pervasive is fortune-telling, which has flourished by offering a means of decision-making in a rapidly changing and uncertain society. This article describes a popular method of fortune-telling using the classical text of the Yijing . It shows how fortune-telling’s naturalistic worldview provides an excellent method for people to navigate day-to-day economic decisions by forecasting fortune in a way that is trustworthy and morally blameless, serving as a compass for uncertain times.

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