Wu-hsing, also known as wu-te (Chin., ‘five movers’). Five virtues, the five elements which work as agents, fundamental in Chinese and Taoist understanding of the cosmos and history. The five are not physical substances, but the metaphysical forces associated with the nature of the substances. The five are wood, fire, earth, metal, water. The basic identifications are obvious, connected with the seasons and the cycle of life: spring, summer—autumn, winter. Earth mediates between the four, sustaining and being sustained by them.
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