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Why the scientific revolution did not take place in China — or did it?


In this study of early Chinese scientific thought and practice, the author examines the manner in which Chinese scientific and technical studies related to the rest of their thought, and how this impaired the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, and therefore, the development of modern science in China. Taking as a starting point his study of the works of Shen Kua (1031–1095), the author, through a thorough-going critique of previous work on the Scientific Revolution problem which exposes its assumptions, fallacies and inadequacies, suggests that the initial heuristic question of the title has served its purpose and considers some of the factors that would need to be explored before a comparative history of scientific development can become a possibility.

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Dr N. Sivin is Professor of both Chinese Culture and the History of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Much of the substance of this paper was given at a recent Edward H. Hume Lecture at Yale University.

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Sivin, N. Why the scientific revolution did not take place in China — or did it?. Environmentalist 5, 39–50 (1985).

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  • Environmental Management
  • Nature Conservation
  • Modern Science
  • Scientific Development
  • Economic Geology