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Chu Ron Guey received his Ph.D. in Chinese thought from Columbia University in 1988 and taught at St. Lawrence University, Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University before taking up a research position with Academia Sinica in Taiwan. His primary research interest is in Confucianism, with a particular focus on Neo-Confucianism. He edited three volumes of anthologies of Wing-tsit Chan's writings in Chinese and co-edited two volumes of conference papers in Chinese on Taoism and popular religion in Taiwan with Lee Feng-mao. His most recent publication is an article on Confucianism and human rights in a volume published by Columbia University Press in 1997.

 

Abstract of paper given at Taoism and Ecology conference
Chinese Geomancy in Environmental Perspective

This paper will explore the ways by which the ancient Chinese environmental art, known as feng-shui, in its various modern garbs might contribute to alleviating ecological problems in modernizing Asian countries. Feng-shui, the geomacy of wind and water, is the most visible manifestation of the Taoist concept of the natural world in daily life. In its classical form, feng-shui represents an excellent expression of a Chinese and Taoist "holistic" and "vitalist" cosmology. In practical terms, feng-shui has been called the "art of adapting the residences of the living and the dead so as to cooperate and harmonise with the local currents of the cosmic breath" (definition by Chatley) . Even in the face of the challenging westernization in modern times, feng-shui continues to dictate the ways Asian people build their city skylines or arrange their home furniture. While feng-shui thrives today, other aspects of traditional Chinese culture are barely surviving. As their predecessors have done for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, modern Asians in China, Korea, Japan, and southeast Asia have been practicing the art of Chinese geomancy to situate their persons in relation to the immediate world and to achieve a harmonious interface with the natural order. Despite occasional ill-effects on the environment, feng-shui, as I will argue in this paper, holds the best key for developing a nativist ecology in today's Asia. This ancient Taoist technology of living with nature may be recruited again and redirected to perform its age-old role in a rapidly industralizing Asia.

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