Was there science in ancient China?

To write a history of Chinese science, the first thing to face is a question that has long been debated in academia. Was there science in ancient China? Obviously, this is closely related to the definition of science. For example, some people think that ancient China had technology, but no science. Jiang Xiaoyuan, a distinguished professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, believes that if a broad definition was adopted, science would exist in ancient China; if a narrow sense was adopted, there would be no science in ancient China.

Clearly, previous Chinese scholars were aware of this problem. For example, most of the books that started editing in 1987 were named History of Chinese Science and Technology (Science Press). This book is jointly organized by the Institute of History of Natural Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Science Press, and the current dean is the editor-in-chief. Its large scale of publication, high level of experts, and wide-ranging results have made it a Chinese scholar studying ancient Chinese science . The masterpiece of technology has been published in 26 volumes. For another example, The General History of Science and Technology in China edited by Jiang Xiaoyuan (Shanghai Jiaotong University Press) brings together top national scholars in the field of the history of science and technology in China to write the most intensive research topics in their fields. Connected in series to show the historical overview of the history of Chinese science and technology. The book i s divided into five volumes from ancient times to the present, according to the approximate chronological order: Long History, Landscapes, Noon Hours, Technology in the Road, Old Life Reform. Each volume sets topics of various sizes in roughly chronological order. Each topic is the research results and research ideas in the field of the history of science and technology in China. The book has a total of more than 3 million words, including all disciplines in the history of Chinese science and technology, such as astronomy, geoscience, agriculture, medicine, physics, chemistry, and natural science.

The titles of the two sets of books have the words “Science and Technology” instead of just “Science”, which shows the author s caution. However, Li Shen intends to change this approach. In his opinion, whether it is technology or experience, in a large cultural classification system, it should be more appropriate to belong to science. Obviously, Li Shen adopted a broad definition of science. As a result, History of Chinese Science launched a historical retrospective. This book has been written from science in the legendary era to science in the Qing Dynasty. The book shows that around 2100 BC, ancient Chinese astronomy had developed to a considerable extent. In mathematics, not only calculations are made for the needs of life, they happened at least from 3000 BC to more than 2000 BC. In terms of geography, Yugong is regarded as a classic and regarded as truth. Yugong follows the route of Dayu s water management as a clue, describing the location of each place and the dir ection of the river. Quzhou tribute floating in Jiyu, Da Yuhe; Xuzhou tribute floating in Huai Si, Da Yuhe and so on, that is, tribute from Jishui, Huaihe, etc. arrived in the Yellow River, and then shipped to Beijing. In addition, it also records the soil and property conditions of various places, as well as the taxation levels determined accordingly. There may be errors in the book loading, but it is also allowed in scientific activities. The Shan Hai Jing is regarded as one hundred truths . However, Li Shen believes that Yu Gong is mainly to clarify the tribute to the world, which is needed during the general formation of the state power; Shan Hai Jing is mainly to clarify the direction of the mountains and the sea and its properties, only to meet production and living needs. He also believes that the livestock mentioned is the orangutan. According to the World Version and The Year of the Bamboo Book, the ancestors of our country already had many creations and inventi ons during this period.

According to Li Shen s discussion, China s entire ancient science has many achievements and has continued to develop. Then, during the Qianjia period, Western science and technology made great strides. Why did China gradually fall behind in this period? Li Shen believes that the matter is actually very simple. The Chinese people were relatively comfortable at the time, so they didn t want to change anything. They didn t look down, and naturally they didn t want to learn from anyone. They didn t think there would be such a crisis in the future. Until the Opium War The sound of artillery awakened them from their dreams, and then mastered the other, and governed themselves first. Li Shen also described this in his other book , The History of Chinese Confucianism.

For example, in the first year of Shunzhi, the western missionary Tang Ruowang presented the eclipse time, eclipse limit, and starting position according to the New Western Law, and soon changed the Chongzhen Almanac developed by Xu Guangqi and others to New Law Almanac, dedicated to the court. After the actual measurement, the new method is more precise than the Ming Dynasty omnibus calendar. The time-keeping calendar and the back-to-back calendar are both more precise. Therefore, Prince Daoer Rui named it the Contemporary Calendar and was issued. Shaoqing.

The reuse of Tang Ruowang made Christianity develop rapidly in China, and the missionaries also lost their past cautions. In his book The Book of Heaven, he said that the East and the West were all Christian seedlings, and that it was the same in China from Fuxi, and also said that Chinese philosophy Compared with Christianity, it is just a glow of fire. This led to a counterattack by Confucian teachers. In the 14th year of Shunzhi, Wu Mingxuan of the Huili Calendar in Qin Tianjian criticized Tang Ruowang for suppressing the Huili calendar. Three years later, Yang Guang, an official student in Xin an, first smashed into the Edit Digest and accused Tang Ruowang of the fallacy of the new law. Then he entered the Choice of Choice . Five people such as Li Zubai were executed and Tang Ruowang avoided death. Yang Guangxian said that it would be better for China to have no good calendar than to have Westerners in China. Later, the court used Yang Guang to preside over the Qin Tianjian, saying that the engineer himself did not understand the calendar, but his resignation was not allowed. The calendar has been inaccurate for several years. In the eighth year of Kangxi, the actual test proved that the missionary Nan Huairen had the best Western law, so he abolished the Gregorian calendar and the Hui calendar, and used the Western calendar exclusively. Nan Huairen was appointed deputy of the Qin Tianjian. He demanded Tang Ruowang Zhaoxue and revenge, saying that Yang Guang s first attempt to play Tang Ruowang s rebellion was framed. Later, Kangxi agreed to caress Tang Ruowang s family, but did not agree with Yang Guang to sit back first.

In the Ming Dynasty, Xu Guangqi and others publicly acknowledged the superiority of the Western calendar. One question that arises is whether Western Christianity, which can create such a good calendar, is also superior to Confucianism? On the one hand, Confucians had to acknowledge the superiority of the Western calendar, on the other hand, they must maintain the superiority of Confucianism. Therefore, they put forward the theory of source of Western studies -that is, the ancient Chinese classics Zhou Ji Shu Jing funded by Western Law, which was accepted by many Confucian scholars during the Qianjia period. It was not until the end of the Qing Dynasty that the Opium War forced the Qing government to open the country and the Qing court defeated the foreign war again and again.

In my opinion, the closed-door and locked-up countries of the Ming and Qing dynasties may be more directly related to the backwardness of science and technology. If this period of time is open to the outside world and economic and commercial exchanges are maintained , the vision of the Confucian will not be so narrow, let alone arrogant self-esteem.

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