• Studies in the History of Natural Sciences NO.1 2010

Studies in the History of Natural Sciences  NO.1 2010 

To My Villagers: a Newly-found Essay Written by Xu Guangqi and Its Interpretation

    ZENG Xiongsheng

  (Institute for the History of Natural Science, CAS, Beijing 100010, China)

  Abstract As an essay written by Xu Guangqi (1562—1633), a famous scientist, statesman and one of the earliest Catholics towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368—1644), with important reference value to the study of Xu's life, thought, traditional response of agriculture to disaster, and the spread of agricultural knowledge, To My Villagers is neither seen in his collected works nor cited or studied by scholars before. Now the essay has been found in the Records of the Songjiang Prefecture (1630). This paper gives the first modern style text of the essay, as well as a primary interpretation and study based on its background.

  Key words Xu Guangqi, lost essay, new historical material

Western Learning, Missionaries and Wang Tao's Study of Calendar in the Spring and Autumn Period

  MAO Zhihui

  (Shanghai People's Publishing House, Shanghai 200001, China)

  Abstract Study of calendar in the Spring and Autumn Period is very important in traditional Chinese academic history. Influenced by Western learning and missionaries, Wang Tao (1828—1897) re-examined the calendar and solar eclipse in the Spring and Autumn Period, and then did fundamental revision. His achievement reached the highest level at that time. This article reviews Wang's study of calendar in detail, analyses the reasons why he conducted this kind of study, and investigates how he combined the calendar of the East and that of the West. His academic communication with missionaries, e. g., James Legge (1815—1897) and John Chalmers (1825—1899), is also discussed.

  Key words Wang Tao, study of calendar in the Spring and Autumn Period, Western learning, missionaries, James Legge, John Chalmers

From “Saving China Through Science” to “Being Incapable of Saving China Through Science”: Study on the Change of the Thought of “Saving China Through Science” in Modern China

  ZHANG Jian

(Institute of History, Shanghai Academy of Social Science, Shanghai 200235, China)

  Abstract Wei Yuan's “learning the advanced technology of foreigners to save China” as a prelude to “Saving China Through Science” ideology has given way to “reform” and “revolution” of the wave of “political salvation” after the Sino-Japanese War in 1894. After the founding of the Republic of China, the ideology of “Saving China Through Science” thrived once again under the influence of the thinking of “building China by industry”and “politics can not save China” , thus leading to the rise and development of the New Culture Movement. But as the New Culture Movement prospered, the sound of “Being Incapable of Saving China Through Science” emerged, and was manifested in three aspects: 1. science was taken as “the culprit” of World War I in the cultural debates between the East and the West; 2. the political revolution once again replaced science as a tool for national salvation under the influence of flourishing political revolutionary practice; 3. along with China's scientific development and social change in history, people gradually come to realize that science is not just a tool for saving China, which itself has a wealth of content, whose essence is to extend the horizons of human knowledge, so that science finally completed the change from a tool of salvation to the pursuit of truth and returned to science itself. The evolution of the thought of “Saving China Through Science” in modern China displaying a kind of relationship between learning and politics: academic ideology is often taken as a tool because of other outer factors such as foreign invasion or extrinsic power, but not for learning itself. But once such external factors and conditions do not exist, learning won't be taken as a tool, eventually resumes its own features, and develops on its own right track. But the paradox is that learning is always used as an available tool and does not show its original essence for most of the time in China.

  Key words science, tool, Saving China Through Science, the spirit of science

A Study of Mudan-pu (Monographs of the Tree Peony)  in the Song Dynasty

  KUBO Teruyuki

  (Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences,Beijing 100049,China)

  Abstract In the Song dynasty, many “Pulu 谱录” (a specific writing style which is close to monographs) came out. At least 17 works in Pulu writings of the Song dynasty feature the tree peony, that accounts for almost a half of Pulu featuring flowering plants, while they became precursory books that promoted other flower Pulu. Nowadays only seven of the 17 works remain, so it is hard to know what were written in those lost works. In this paper, including those lost works, I would show the investigation into background of each Pulu author, the precise time of writing, the frameworks and the contents of each Pulu. As a result, the following points are newly discovered: (a) By the reseach of the authors' backgrounds, not only their social/official positions and circumstances of writing are clarified, but the relationships between the authors are also emerged. (b) In addition, based on the investigation into the more precisely presumed time of writings, all the 17 works are now able to be placed in chronological order, and the transition of the recorded varieties and these locations of each work become clear. As a result, the number of varieties actually does not simply increase by chronological order, but comparing the varieties written in each Pulu, we can know there were always newly-produced varieties. People in the Song dynasty often sought newer varieties and ignored older ones. The number of varieties in each Pulu therefore does simply increase by chronoligical order. (c) Through the examination into the frameworks and the contents inside the seven extant works, it can be known that most of authors recorded the present varieties of the tree peonies, and sometime mentioned flower gardens, folklife with the flowers, and cultivation techniques, in order to hand down to posterity. Some authors who were scholar-officials presented their own philosophical ideas concerning how new varieties of the tree peonies can be produced. They often mentioned “Zaowu 造物” and/or “Zaohua 造化” (a certain creator) who is supposed to administrate nature, that is also supposed to influence mutations of the tree peonies. Meanwhile, this paper also introduces the different early editions of the existent seven works, such as texts in Baichuan Xuehai 百川学海, and shows the most reliable versions with a comparison among the different versions.

  Key words Chinese monographs, the tree peony, history of science and techonogy in the Song dynasty, culture of flowering plants, horticultural techniques, philology

Two Historical Researches on Islamic Astronomical Institutions in Yuan and Ming Dynasties

  CHEN Zhanshan

  (College of Liberal Arts, Shantou University, Guangdong 515063, China)

  Abstract In discussing the two problems about the ancient Islamic astronomical institutions in Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the author believes what the cardinal motive of the Yuan and Ming governments to set up such astronomical institutions was to utilize the Islamic astrology,and that “yongxing” was a kind of activity for worshiping stars which was also relevant to astrology. Discussions on the topics mentioned above contribute to a further understanding of the political and cultural backgrounds for the spread and transmission of Islamic astronomy in China, and to a comprehensive knowledge about the diversity of the work of Islamic astronomers in China.

  Key words Islamic astronomical institutions in Yuan and Ming Dynasties, motive of setting up, Yongxing, astrology


Research on the Paragon of Inductive Reasoning in East Asia: Tetsujutsu Sankei

  ZHOU Chang

  (Center for History of Mathematics & Science, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China; Applied Mathematics & Physics Department, Xi'an University of Posts & Telecommunications , Xi'an 710121, China)

  Abstract Tetsujutsu Sankei is written by the wasan mathematician Takabe Katahiro, and as a magnum opus of mathematics, it is the most important classic in the history of Wasan. This paper mainly analyses the mathematics thought in Tetsujutsu Sankei from the angle of Chinese-Character Cultural Circle. With its focus on the relation between the traditional Chinese mathematics and the mathematics in Tetsujutsu Sankei. It is helpful to understand the outstanding mathematical work comprehensively and make a fair and objective appraisal.

  Key words Tetsujutsu Sankei, Zhuishu, induction, mathematical methodology

The Contributions of Hassler Whitney to Graph Theory

  WANG Xianfen

  (College of Mathematics and Information Science, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050016, China)

  Abstract Hassler Whitney is one of the most influential mathematicians in the 20th century. With an analysis based on the classification of primary sources, this paper discusses Whitney's work on graph theory before he switched to topology. It reviews his great contributions to planar graph, Hamiltonian circuits in planar graphs, chromatic polynomials and matroid theory, which was founded by Whitney in his paper entitled “On the abstract properties of linear dependence” in 1935. The results show that these contributions are closely related to the four-color conjecture. He made many theoretical achievements derived from it even though he didn't succeed. And his legacies have a great impact on the development of modern graph theory. A prime characteristic of Whitney's mathematical work is the search for inner reasons (SIR) for phenomena. And another one is the thought infiltration of topology into graph theory, which has significantly influenced graph theory and topology. It is expected to be beneficial for understanding Whitney's academic achievements in all aspects.

  Key words Hassler Whitney,graph theory,four-color conjecture,planar graph,Hamiltonian circuit,chromatic polynomial,matroid theory