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On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900

On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900

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Key Metrics

  • Benjamin A Elman
  • Harvard University Press
  • Hardcover
  • 9780674016859
  • 9.52 X 6.52 X 1.63 inches
  • 2.17 pounds
  • Science > History
  • English
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Book Description

In On Their Own Terms, Benjamin A. Elman offers a much-needed synthesis of early Chinese science during the Jesuit period (1600-1800) and the modern sciences as they evolved in China under Protestant influence (1840s-1900).

By 1600 Europe was ahead of Asia in producing basic machines, such as clocks, levers, and pulleys, that would be necessary for the mechanization of agriculture and industry. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Elman shows, Europeans still sought from the Chinese their secrets of producing silk, fine textiles, and porcelain, as well as large-scale tea cultivation. Chinese literati borrowed in turn new algebraic notations of Hindu-Arabic origin, Tychonic cosmology, Euclidian geometry, and various computational advances.

Since the middle of the nineteenth century, imperial reformers, early Republicans, Guomindang party cadres, and Chinese Communists have all prioritized science and technology. In this book, Elman gives a nuanced account of the ways in which native Chinese science evolved over four centuries, under the influence of both Jesuit and Protestant missionaries. In the end, he argues, the Chinese produced modern science on their own terms.

On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900

Author Bio

Benjamin Elman (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 1980) is Professor of East Asian Studies and History with his primary department in East Asian Studies.

His teaching and research fields include:

1) Chinese intellectual and cultural history, 1000-1900; 
2) history of science in China, 1600-1930; 
3) history of education in late imperial China; 
4) Sino-Japanese cultural history, 1600-1850. 
His publications include:

From Philosophy To Philology (1984, 1990, 2001); 
Classicism, Politics, and Kinship (1990); 
A Cultural History of Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China (2000). 
He has recently completed two book projects: On Their Own Terms: Science in China, 1550-1900 (2005), and A Cultural History of Modern Science in Late Imperial China (2006).

A new work entitled Meritocracy and Civil Examinations in Late Imperial China (HUP) appeared in Fall 2013.

I also edited several volumes from conferences held at Princeton under the auspices of PIIRS, EAP, and the Mellon Foundation on "Science in Republican China" (Brill 2014), "Languages, Literacies, and Vernaculars in Early Modern East Asia" (Brill 2015), and "Medical Classics and Medical Philology in East Asian, 1400-1900" (Brill 2016).

During my leave, I visited archives in China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.  

For my leave in AY17, I have continued working on a new project entitled "The Intellectual Impact of Late Imperial Chinese Classicism, Medicine, and Science in Tokugawa Japan, 1700-1850," under the auspices of summer research grants from my Mellon Foundation Career Service Award (2011-2017).

 

Source: Princeton University Department of East Asian Studies 

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