Knowing "things and affairs" in premodern China -- Nature, crafts, and knowing -- Private affairs -- The Ming dynasty and the Song family -- Childhood and education -- Driving forces: the appointment of Chen Qixin -- Song's writing campaign -- Affairs of honor -- Knowledge in terms of qi: universal rulings and rationality -- The truth in heaven and the order of qi -- The power of heaven: omens and eclipses -- Systems of value: the sage-kings, the authority of the past, and man's role -- The knowledge in crafts -- Public affairs -- Crafts and the Ming state -- Man's nature (xing) and talents -- Abilities and education -- Social permeability and the commercialization of society: the merchant -- Customs and habits -- Written affairs -- Rhetoric of knowledge inquiry: texts and experience -- Images, technology and argument -- Observing the nature of qi: theory and practice in knowledge construction -- The complexity of qi transformations: composites and compositions of qi -- Formulating the transformation -- Reading the signature of yin-yang qi in gas, salt, wind, and rain -- Growth and decay: wood, corpses, and the proportional relation of yin and yang -- Glitches in the matrix of qi: the concepts of ashes and particles -- Acoustics -- An anatomy of sound -- The human voice -- Volume and velocity -- Resonance and harmony -- Conclusion. leaving the theater -- Epilogue. aftermath -- By virtue of friendship: literary sponsorship -- By virtue of position: outside and opposition -- By virtue of loyalty: moral obligations -- An artifact in transmission: The editions of the Works of heaven -- Writing about practical knowledge in the Chinese literati world -- Acknowledgments -- Appendix 1. Chinese dynasties and various rulers -- Appendix 2. Song Yingxing curriculum vitae -- Appendix 3. Editions of the Tiangong kaiwu.