• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.4 2000

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.4 2000




A New Survey of the “Needham Question”……LIU Dun

【Abstract】 Why did modern science not develop in China?”Nowadays,the“Needham question”— as historians have come to refer to this subject — is still a widely discussed topic among historians of science throughout the world,and its full implications go well beyond the more specific matter of science and China.This article does not discuss the various dynamic factors related to this subject,whether internal or external to science.Instead,it provides a broad survey of recent research concerning this problem,and places special emphasis upon the origins and development of the“Needham question”,as well as its significance in the historiography of world science.




Some of Joseph Needham's Achievements and Views in the History of Science and Technology in China……Joseph C.Y.Chen

【Abstract】 Joseph Needham is an exceptional Western scholar who was able to approach the study of the history of science in China from a relatively neutral perspective and substantially free from the imposition of his own culture.He is admired for his scholarship and his effort of going back to the original Chinese source in his research.He has a remarkable capacity of appreciating alternative views and approaches.His work will always be of importance in the history of science for bringing into focus the multicultural roots of science and technology.This paper examines the impact of his work and some of the issues raised in his work.




Needham's Perspectives on Indian Science Some Reflections……Bidara Venkatasubbaiah Subbarayappa

【Abstract】 In his monumental publications on Chinese Science and Civilisation,Joseph Needham has displayed his acumen in bringing to the fore the conceptual nuances and achievements of one of the enchanting ancient civilisations.In addition,his reflections on the travel of ideas and practices from one culture to another are remarkable.Of special interest is his exposition of Chinese Indian scientific transmissions in astronomy,mathematics,alchemy and other aspects.Though he has depended by and large on the studies of other scholars for understanding Indian Science,his objective approach to Indian Science is refreshing and his publications are indeed valuable to historians of Indian Science as they provide comparative insights into certain aspects of Indian Science in the ancient period.In fact,Needham's meticulously planned series of volumes and the scholarly presentation of their contents are a source of inspiration for historians of Indian Science.




Joseph Needham's View on the Influence of Yi Jing upon Science……XI Zezong

【Abstract】 This paper gives a brief description of Joseph Needham's view on the influence of Yi Jing (the Book of Changes) upon science. Needham considers that the Book of Changes was very harmful to the development of science in ancient China and that G.W.Leibniz had invented the binary system before he knew the Eight Trigrams system of the Book of Changes.

早期天文学观念的形成 :东汉时的黄道和赤道(英文)



Seeing the Appearances:Ecliptic and Equator in the Eastern Han……Christopher Cullen

【Abstract】 This paper sets out to fulfil a number of tasks.Firstly,as I hope will be acceptable in an issue of this journal dedicated to the memory of Joseph Needham,it attempts to use evidence from China to re write a small part of the early history of astronomical thought and practice in a comparative and global context.This is desirable because the Chinese evidence is full and detailed at crucial points where the record from the ancient West is relatively sparse.Secondly, it aims to draw attention to some of the conditions under which technical innovation was possible — or sometimes impossible — in particular institutional and political settings.There may be lessons from this that still retain some value.Thirdly,it tries to elucidate the true meaning of some interesting but so far obscure sections in the writing of one of early China's greatest scientific and technical figures,Zhang Heng 张衡(AD 78—139) ①.Although this third aim contributes to the attainment of the first two purposes of this paper,it seems worthwhile in itself to try to reach the fullest possible understanding of all the fragments remaining from the work of such a man,and I hope the effort involved will seem well spent.




New Evidence for the History of Fire Wells in China……Hans Ulrich Vogel, Zhang Xuejun

【Abstract】 Research carried out in the last 50 years on the history of Chinese “fire wells”(natural gas wells)subtantially increased our knowledge of the history of exploitation of natural resources in China.Due to a dearth of historical material and to differences in its interpretation,however,a number of issues are still open to debate. In this article,there are introduced five new historical documents on the opening of “fire wells”in Sichuan and the use of natural gas for boiling salt from the 16th to the 18th centuries.They show the fire wells' long evolutionary process beginning with the fire wells of Linqiong in the Han and Jin periods to the exploitation of the natural gas and brine fields of Ziliujing during the Qing.Before the modern period,both Chinese and Western scholars endeavouring to explain the strange phenomenon of fire wells were not able to free themselves from the concepts of their respective tradition of scientific thought.In spite of these deficiencies in theoretical explanation ,Sichuan salt producers were nonetheless quite successful in tapping this important energy resource for their limited,practical ends.




Gengxin Yuce, the Last Significant Chinese Text on Alchemy……Ho Peng Yoke

【Abstract】 The Genxin Yuce was a work on alchemy by Zhu Quan(1378—1448). According to J.R.Jonker the complete text of the book if no longer extant. A number of quotations from ot are given in Li Shizhens Bencao Gangmu .Other fragmentary passages from it also occur in some compendia. This paper provides an English translation of all the passages that the I have collected over the years and attempts to make a study of the Gengxin Yuce from the available material. The Gengxin Yuce had received the attention of Dr.Joseph Needham and me since we first embarked together in the study of the history of Chinese alchemy in the year 1958.During my many visits overseas over the years I used to try to look for this book in libraries whenever the opportunity arose, but was unable to find it outside China. In 1990 Nakayama Shigeru and I visited the Beijing Library, together with Bo Shuren. Helped by Bo Shuren, I asked the library about the book, but it was of no avail. I have come to read from Yao Pinwen (1993)that the Beijing Library has this book. Hopefully interested scholars will be able to make a full scale study of this interesting work in the future.