celestial cycle, biological cycle, the uniform rotation, the chain of recurring links


The cyclical view of time and history appears in two modes represented respectively by the Indo-Hellenic and the Chinese tradition. The former contains a conception of Mahayuga or Great Year, which signifies the periodic destruction and reconstruction in the cosmos and human world. In addition, it analogizes human affairs to the celestial cycle and therefore generalizes the mode of cyclical movements in both the cosmos and the human world as “uniform rotation.” In contrast, the Chinese tradition incorporates Heaven and human into a unity, containing no conception of periodic interruption in the movement of Heaven-human unity. At the same, it analogizes human affairs mainly to a short-term biological cycle. This leads it to forge a notion of dynastic cycle and generalize a different mode which I illustrate as the “chain of recurring links.”