<1> Description of the right figure
This figure is not drawn as two different diagrams, but as a set of diagrams. The diagram on the right depicts the four elements that make up everything that exists in nature. The figure on the left dipicts the four elements that make up all the natural phenomena. Before considering the meaning of those characters, I believe that Aristotle's four-cause theory influenced this idea of Baien. I've written this issue a few times by far, and I'll write it many more times.
The flow of the idea originated from the fact that Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) went to China in the Ming Dynasty for Christian missionary work. He humbly learned about Chinese religion, thought and culture, and did not forcibly propagate Christianity, and passed on the thoughts of Aristotle of ancient Greece, a Catholic legitimate view of nature. This has historically had a crucial impact on Chinese scholars. In particular, Youzi Liu(16 ??-?) 's "Questions and Answers on Astronomy" and Fang Yizhi (Fuichi, 1611-1671)' s "Knowledge on physics" are important. It was a pioneering achievement of Miura Baien. "Questions and Answers on Astronomy" was published in Japan in 1675, and was widely read throughout Japan after the Edo Shogunate removed it from the list of banned books in 1720.
Fang Yizhi (1611-1671) authored "Dongxi Jun", which is said to be "a collection of philosophical essays embodying the esotericity ". And yet Baien seems to have understood the contents of the book because he had been absorbed in reading "Knowledge on physics", in which the contents of "Dongxi Jun" was rewritten. "Dongxi Jun" was buried 300 years after being written, and was finally published in 2001. The following is a summary of a dissertation from Masataka Saito (Aichi University), who is conducting research on Fang Yizhi.
Fang I-chih(1611-1671 方以智),Chinese scholar in late Ming dynasty ,had a view of quality of life according to Confucianism. His view related to his transcendence.It was a kind of energy that one half escaped from situation that relativeness binded each other and controlled another one. He said live and death according to this transcendence. He criticized "one fear of death" and "four victories against live and death" in traditional Chinese thought, and pointed that a source of live and death is human mind, there was a way to care human mind by the book of changes. (from "The view of life and death of Fang Yizhi" by Masataka Saito.)
China's view of nature in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties was overturned by the ancient Greek philosophy of Mateo Ricci. I don't know if that fact is known to Western and Chinese researchers. However, it is completely unknown that it had a decisive effect on Japanese common scholars in the mid-Edo period, and that it was one of the driving forces of the revolution toward the Meiji Restoration.
The transformation of the view of nature in the mid-Edo period was like a giant earthquake that transformed the whole of Japan into a modern Western-style nation, after which Japan was completely transformed into a Western-style one. But that didn't happen in China. This was due to the continent being too wide and the very low literacy rate of civilians other than elite bureaucrats.
Although the figure above is rarely understood by Japanese researchers, it is probably I alone who sees the effects of Aristotle's the "four causes". It is undoubtedly influenced by Fang's work. Research on this path of thought connecting the east and west of the ocean is too slow. The following is an explanation of the figure.
This figure shows that there are four causes that make up everything. This is an essential structure that is common to all, and there is no exception. Baien thought that everything in nature is made up of these four causes, just like life and death are the principles with no exception. This is important. There are no exceptions in nature. He thought that everything was created equally. Heaven does not make the emperor, nor the land does not create farmers.
The figure on the right shows the components common to various objects in nature. Baien drew the typical elements in this figure and in this figure. The former depicts celestial components and the latter global ones. When these are further subdivided, the following figure is obtained. Although Baien did not draw, it could be subdivided as much as possible, and the figure could be automatically generated by a computer. The point is that this figure means that they are all based on four causes.
The word "物" at the bottom refers to a substance that fuses with life. Life becomes an organism only when it integrated with the materials. Just as trees are rooting in the earth, each life force is rooting till every corner of the substance which is given its own form.
The roots of trees absorb water and nutrients, and the leaves get the light. Animals and birds are under the sunlight in a day and drink water from their mouths. BAIEN considered these to be only differences in the phase of the organism. Therefore, he used the word "根", which means "roots", at the bottom of this figure.
The letter "體" on the right means the shape of each entity and "精" which is the next means the precision of each mechanism. The wonders instincts of insects and the wonder's ability of slime molds come from their precise mechanisms. The phloem and conduit of plants and the vascular and nervous systems of animals are also precise. The crystal structure of minerals is also precise. The orbit of celestial bodies is also precisely determined.
The character on the left, "性" refers to the characteristics of an individual entity. "英" means the most prominent manifestation of its nature. For example, a cherry tree has a unique feature that is different from other trees. The beautiful full cherry blossom is the most typical character of the cherry. So "英" means the typical character of the entity.
BAIEN considered the difference in these beings to be due to each distribution of the ingredient. Here we can see the influence of Aristotle's theory of the Four Causes. It probably derived from '物理小織' by 方以智, but the comparative study of the literature has not started yet.
The study is a future research issue that transcends the eastern and western parts of the world.
Takahashi Masayasu (1936-2005) was the first researcher to discover this historical issue. He was my mentor.