On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900 by Benjamin A. Elman

By Benjamin A. Elman

In all alone phrases, Benjamin A. Elman deals a much-needed synthesis of early chinese language technology in the course of the Jesuit interval (1600-1800) and the fashionable sciences as they advanced in China lower than Protestant impression (1840s-1900). by means of 1600 Europe was once sooner than Asia in generating easy machines, reminiscent of clocks, levers, and pulleys, that will be worthwhile for the mechanization of agriculture and undefined. within the 17th and eighteenth centuries, Elman indicates, Europeans nonetheless sought from the chinese language their secrets and techniques of manufacturing silk, advantageous textiles, and porcelain, in addition to large-scale tea cultivation. chinese language literati borrowed in flip new algebraic notations of Hindu-Arabic beginning, Tychonic cosmology, Euclidian geometry, and diverse computational advances. because the center of the 19th century, imperial reformers, early Republicans, Guomindang get together cadres, and chinese language Communists have all prioritized technological know-how and know-how. during this booklet, Elman supplies a nuanced account of the ways that local chinese language technology advanced over 4 centuries, lower than the impact of either Jesuit and Protestant missionaries. after all, he argues, the chinese language produced smooth technological know-how on their lonesome phrases.

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Arguably, by 1600 Europe was ahead of Asia in producing basic machines such as clocks, screws, levers, and pulleys that would be applied increasingly to the mechanization of agricultural and industrial production. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, Europeans still sought the technological secrets for silk production, textile weaving, porcelain making, and large-scale tea production from the Chinese. Chinese literati in turn, before 1800, borrowed from Europe new algebraic notations (of Hindu-Arabic origins), Tychonic cosmology, Euclidean geometry, spherical trigonometry, and arithmetic and trigonometric logarithms.

Late Ming antiquarians with their fixation on possessing things challenged the principled ideals of both Cheng-Zhu learning and Yangming revisionism. 1. ” Source: Permission from National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. 12 Introduction principles was naive. He rerouted the Cheng-Zhu agenda and reduced all things in the perceptible world to the unified field of the mind’s awareness, where all principles ultimately resided. ”27 Things in themselves were banal for Wang and his followers, who demoted the value of things out there, precisely when man-made commodities of value proliferated in the marketplace.

In fact, searching for such principles outside the self was enervating, Wang contended, because 8 Introduction piecemeal knowledge never yielded a singular moral vision unifying knowledge and action (zhixing heyi). One of Wang’s students noted that things (wu) were the same as events (shi), which Song scholars such as Cheng Yi had already claimed, but the student extended the point to clarify that “both referred to the mind,” where their principles resided. Wang concluded from the exchange that investigating things meant preserving the clear character of the mind.

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