What is the organic Qi? — In contrast to the material substance of matter ②


By Simon Kim, Professor, South Baylo University

What is the relation of YY reciprocity? In other words, it is organic logic. Yin is the ultimate energy of the inner bonding, whereas Yang, which radiates the ultimate energy constantly, continues to connect with the outside. These two phenomena are called as the Doctrine of Internal Relations and Doctrine of External Relations. Of course, there is a mutual reciprocity between the two. Something can only sustain external relations if also sustains internal relations, or the converse or both. According to the theory of Asian medicine, the spirit is the energy of active Yang of Yang, and the body is the energy of Yin of Yin which condenses into a physical form.

Alfred N. Whitehead (1861-1947) who opposed to body/ spirit dichotomy came up with a theory of physical pole and mental pole alternatively.  The link to understanding the Eastern Organic medicine depends on the association between the Neo-Confucianism based on I-Ching world view and the philosophy of the organism. For more detailed research, we need to focus on the theory of ‘correlative thinking’ in the East Asian philosophy (Joseph Needham) and ‘corresponding theory’ (Manfred Porkert). Correlative means that each level of diverse qi in nature must be essentially incomplete, and completed only by interpretation in terms of the other level.

If Qi is not a material substance, what is it? It is an organism different from a matter, structurally and functionally. Since the concept of Qi entails an organism, it can imply all the living things beyond matter. According to Whitehead, matter is a small organism, and the universe is a big organism. As a matter of fact, matter is a sort of ‘Quantity Image’ while Qi is ‘the Quality Image”. The diverse quality of Qi creates life-laden Jingqi world.

The material meaning of the Qi in nature is a fully convincing expression. However, the organic meaning cannot be expressed in the material sense. There is a need for a conceptual reflection on how Qi and matter exist in the reality of nature. The most important feature of difference between the concept of matter and the concept of qi is that one is built around the notion of stasis and the other built around the notion of process. This is because the dynamic aspect of change and process must be considered in order to clarify the concept of organic Qi. Furthermore, the organic aspect of organization and relationship is a very essential of YY and WX theory.

I think that three organic factors – change, dynamic, and relational system – should be considered newly in the definition of Qi concept. In short, relationship, totality, and time are the three elements of an organism. All beings with life have a holistic organism. In a sense, a universe is the entire body of the same organic structure composed by organic Qi, not by just material elements. The organic Qi is the basic building block of nature that constitutes the myriad things according to the interrelation of Yin-Yang Wuxing.