The philosophical importance of a new ordering principle for hexagrams can maybe only be appreciated by real ‘aficionados’ of the I Ching and in the context of humanity evolving, i.e. an anthropological context:
- the first order was created by King Wen in ancient times
- a new order was printed in the first Western translation: the German book written by Richard Wilhelm in 1922
- the octal order of my digital I Ching is not just a different sequence or series, but is based on a different number system than the decimal one.
Counting hexagrams from 1 to 64 means we are using the decimal number system.
Fundamentally, the I Ching is ‘binary’, i.e. Yin is 0 and Yang is 1 – just as in computers.
To use a different number system as a new ordering principle gets close to re-affirming Pythagoras who said Everything is Number. But to my knowledge he did not use octal numbers. However, I do confirm with him, that ‘everything is number’ in the sense that
- most things are countable
- numbers are the basis for counting as well as measuring
- measuring, however, depends on measuring units.
And that’s where physics, the science of ‘reality’, touches on metrology, the basis for industrial processes, and mathematics, the abstract realm of ‘describing’ reality.
Numbers allow for sequential ordering just like letters from A to Z.
Classification codes in libraries, filing cabinets, archives and data bases combine letters and numbers.
Re-looking at hexagrams in diagrams that are arranged according to numerical principles that are either from the smallest to the largest (0 to 7) or the largest to the smallest (7 to 0) may make you wonder about what ‘change’ is about:
- how to make it happen
- how to respond
- how not to make it happen…