Science and Civilisation in China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Science and Civilisation in China (1954–2008) is a series of books initiated and edited by British biochemist and self-trained Sinologist Joseph Needham (1900–1995). They deal with the history of science and technology in China. To date there have been seven volumes in twenty-seven books. The series was on the Modern Library Board's 100 Best Nonfiction books of the 20th century.[1]

In 1954, Needham—along with an international team of collaborators—initiated the project to study the science, technology, and civilisation of ancient China. This project produced a series of volumes published by Cambridge University Press. The project is still continuing under the guidance of the Publications Board of the Needham Research Institute (NRI), chaired by Christopher Cullen.[2]

Needham's transliteration of Chinese characters uses the Wade-Giles system, though the aspirate apostrophe (e.g., ch'i) was rendered 'h' (viz. chhi; traditional Chinese: 氣; Mandarin Pinyin: ). However, it was abandoned in favor of the pinyin system by the NRI board in April 2004, with Volume 5, Part 11 becoming the first to use the new system.[3]

Volumes[edit]

Vol. Title Contributors Date Notes
Vol. 1 Introductory Orientations Wang Ling (research assistant) 1954
Vol. 2 History of Scientific Thought Wang Ling (research assistant) 1956 OCLC
Vol. 3 Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and Earth Wang Ling (research assistant) 1959 OCLC
Vol. 4,
Part 1
Physics Wang Ling (research assistant), with cooperation of Kenneth Robinson 1962 OCLC
Vol. 4
Part 2
Mechanical Engineering Wang Ling (collaborator) 1965  
Vol. 4,
Part 3
Civil Engineering and Nautics Wang Ling and Lu Gwei-djen (collaborators) 1971  
Vol. 5,
Part 1
Paper and Printing Tsien Tsuen-Hsuin 1985  
Vol. 5,
Part 2
Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Magisteries of Gold and Immortality Lu Gwei-djen (collaborator) 1974  
Vol. 5,
Part 3
Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Historical Survey, from Cinnabar Elixirs to Synthetic Insulin Ho Ping-Yu and Lu Gwei-djen (collaborators) 1976  
Vol. 5,
Part 4
Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Apparatus and Theory Lu Gwei-djen (collaborator), with contributions by Nathan Sivin 1980  
Vol. 5,
Part 5
Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Physiological Alchemy Lu Gwei-djen (collaborator) 1983  
Vol. 5,
Part 6
Military Technology: Missiles and Sieges Robin D.S. Yates, Krzysztof Gawlikowski, Edward McEwen, Wang Ling (collaborators) 1994  
Vol. 5,
Part 7
Military Technology: The Gunpowder Epic Ho Ping-Yu, Lu Gwei-djen, Wang Ling (collaborators) 1987  
Vol. 5,
Part 8
"Work in progress"
Vol. 5,
Part 9
Textile Technology: Spinning and Reeling Dieter Kuhn 1988  
Vol. 5,
Part 10
"Work in progress"
Vol. 5,
Part 11
Ferrous Metallurgy Donald B. Wagner 2008  
Vol. 5,
Part 12
Ceramic Technology Rose Kerr, Nigel Wood, contributions by Ts'ai Mei-fen and Zhang Fukang 2004  
Vol. 5,
Part 13
Mining Peter Golas 1999  
Vol. 6,
Part 1
Botany Lu Gwei-djen (collaborator), with contributions by Huang Hsing-Tsung 1986  
Vol. 6,
Part 2
Agriculture Francesca Bray 1984  
Vol. 6,
Part 3
Agroindustries and Forestry Christian A. Daniels and Nicholas K. Menzies 1996  
Vol. 6,
Part 4
"Work in progress"  
Vol. 6,
Part 5
Fermentations and Food Science Huang Hsing-Tsung 2000  
Vol. 6,
Part 6
Medicine Lu Gwei-djen, Nathan Sivin (editor) 2000  
Vol. 7,
Part 1
Language and Logic Christoph Harbsmeier 1998  
Vol. 7,
Part 2
General Conclusions and Reflections Kenneth Girdwood Robinson (editor), Ray Huang (collaborator), introduction by Mark Elvin 2004 OCLC

Summaries[edit]

There have been two summaries or condensations of the vast amount of material found in Science and Civilisation. The first, a one-volume popular history book by Robert Temple entitled The Genius of China, was completed in a little over 12 months to be available in 1986 for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to China. This addressed only the contributions made by China and had a "warm welcome" from Joseph Needham in the introduction, though in the Beijing Review he criticized that it had "some mistakes ... and various statements that I would like to have seen expressed rather differently".[4]

A second was made by Colin Ronan, a writer on the history of science, who produced a five volume condensation The Shorter Science and Civilisation: An abridgement of Joseph Needham's original text, between 1980 and his death in 1995.[5] These volumes cover:

  1. China and Chinese science
  2. Mathematics, astronomy, meteorology and the earth sciences
  3. Magnetism, nautical technology, navigation, voyages
  4. Mechanical engineering, machines, clockwork, windmills, aeronautics
  5. Civil engineering, roads, bridges, hydraulic engineering

References[edit]

  • Robert Finlay, "China, the West, and World History in Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China," Journal of World History 11 (Fall 2000): 265-303.
  • Justin. Lin, "The Needham Puzzle: Why the Industrial Revolution Did Not Originate in China," Economic development and cultural change 43.2 (1995): 269-292. JSTOR link

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Modern Library, 1999. 100 Best Nonfiction."
  2. ^ "Science and Civilisation in China". Needham Research Institute. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  3. ^ volume 5, part 11, page xxxii
  4. ^ Ling Yuan (Mar 23, 1987). East-West: Bridging the Scientific Chasm". Retrieved 2011-02-06. 
  5. ^ Colin Ronan (1980–95). The Shorter Science and Civilisation. Cambridge University Press. 

Sources[edit]

  • Needham, Joseph (1954), Science and Civilisation in China: Introductory Orientations 1, Cambridge University Press