Talk:Joseph Needham

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Comments[edit]

I am trying to beef-up the China section in the History of science. This poem is from memory; I read it 30 years ago but am hesitant to enter it into the article unless you know where I can dig up a copy of Needham's 3-6 volume book. -- regards, Ancheta Wis 02:04, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I farm the the land from which I take my food.
I watch the sun rise and the sun set.
Kings can ask no more.
--this is the sense of a Chinese poem quoted by Joseph Needham

I heard from my Chinese history professor that he had an affair with a young chinese student of his. Is this the same one that he married? Maybe that should be added. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.68.64.174 (talk) 22:07, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Hopkins' biochemistry lab will not have been in Caius College - the colleges only have offices, meeting rooms and living/dining accomodation - but somewhere else in Cambridge. Cmarooney (talk) 14:47, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Use of honorary title in article[edit]

I have removed the references to Needham as "Sir Joseph" or "Sir Needham" because:

  • I assume the title was bestowed on him and as not inherited. I assume this because the references to his parents does not suggest they were members of the nobility.
  • If the knighthood was bestowed upon Needham rather than inheriting it, the use of it as an honorific is not supported by Wikipedia naming conventions. This is outlined at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (names and titles) under "Other non-royal names, point 5.

The actual title bestowed upon Needham could be added to the article (for example, a Knight of the ....?), but for consistency with other articles, the honorific preceding his name should not be used. Euryalus 11:43, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

My additions[edit]

This is what I included.


Works by Joseph Needham

Science, religion and reality (1925)

Chemical embryology (1931)

The great amphibium, four lectures on the position of religion in a world dominated by science (1931)

Perspectives in biochemistry; thirty-one essays presented to Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins by past and present members of his laboratory (1937)

History is On Our Side (1947)

Science outpost; papers of the Sino-British science co-operation office (British council scientific office in China) 1942-1946 (1948)

Science and civilisation in China (1954)

Science and civilization in China, by Joseph Needham, with the research assistance [and collaboration] of Wang Ling. (1954-59) 2 Volumes

A History of Embryology (1959)

The grand titration: science and society in East and West (1969)

Within the four seas : the dialogue of east and west (1969)

Clerks and craftsmen in China and the west: lectures and addresses on the history of science and technology (1970)

Chinese science; explorations of an ancient tradition (1973)

Moulds of understanding : a pattern of natural philosophy (1976)

The shorter Science and civilisation in China, volume 1 : an abridgement of Joseph Needham's original text (1978)

The shorter science and civilisation in China, volume 2 : an abridgement of Joseph Needham's original text (1978)

The shorter Science and civilisation in China : an abridgement of Joseph Needham's original text, volume 3 (1978)

Science in Traditional China (1982)

Science in traditional China : a comparative perspective (1982)

The Genius of China (1986)

Heavenly clockwork : the great astronomical clocks of medieval China (1986)

The Hall of Heavenly Records : Korean astronomical instruments and clocks, 1380-1780 (1986)


-Bill-

April 26, 2008

Languages[edit]

In a May 2008 interview, Simon Winchester says that Needham spoke seven languages other than Chinese. Any information on that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.49.77.67 (talk) 21:21, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

The Man Who Loved China: The Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom Winchester

Criticism[edit]

Since there was only one sentence in the subsections, I consolidated. I also substituted another article by Robert Finlay which is more directly concerned with the question.

This section (indeed the whole article) needs to be beefed up. ch (talk) 23:53, 24 September 2008 (UTC)


I made a few tweaks but will return with more substantial evaluations. I would appreciate any suggestions ch (talk) 01:10, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Worthy of more[edit]

I am no sinologist, but according to a BBC World Service report broadcast 27 sept 08, in China he is the best known of all Englishmen. Needham's magnum opus Science and Civilisation in China is a huge, astonishing, personally researched, and - by all accounts - readable investigation of 'Needham's Question', significant enough to have spawned a research institute at Cambridge. According to a BBC World Service report broadcast 27 sept 08, he is the best known Englishman in China. I'm going to mark it with 'expand' - because as it stands the book seems like just one work among many. If doing so violates any wikipedia etiquette please remove it. Ancheta - the institute could perhaps help with your poem quote

Lu Gui Zhen - Lu Gwei Djen[edit]

Hi, it seems that Lu Gui Zhen (mentioned in the Career section) and Lu Gwei Djen (mentioned in the Personal life section) are one and the same person. If so, I'd suggest editing the broken link at the first mention of Lu (in the Career section) and redirect it to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu_Gwei-djen. Also, maybe it would be a good idea to unify the spelling (or explain that both refer to the same person). I don't do it myself because I am just a beginner in the study of Chinese civilisation and wouldn't like to mess with the article. Thanks!

He was also an eugenist.[edit]

Joseph Needham was also an eugenist.In fact, he was among the signatories of the eugenics manifesto in 1939.Agre22 (talk) 12:49, 12 January 2010 (UTC)agre22

Objection to text[edit]

I object to the following text in the article (section Evaluations and critiques, second paragraph, final sentence):

Sivin's criticism can arguably be rejected as ruling out all discussion of causes in history, on the basis that the cause of every historical event is that if it hadn't occurred that would be counterfactual, and thus supposedly not susceptible of a useful answer.

In the first place, it appears to be an editor's opinion. In the second place, the sentence is incoherent. In the third place, assuming I've deciphered the sentence correctly, the editor fails to understand Silvin's criticism. There is an obvious difference between asking why something did happen (a useful question about a factual situation, for which we can examine evidence etc.) and asking why something didn't happen (a useless question about a counterfactual situation, for which there is no evidence to examine).Faagel (talk) 14:47, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

"Why didn't he get up in the morning?

"Because he died in his sleep."

Perfectly reasonable question to ask. 'Why didn't China develop as Europe did?' is no different than 'Why did Europe develop as China didn't?' This is fundamentally different than asking 'What would have happened if the Nazis won the war?' MarkinBoston (talk) 19:48, 12 January 2013 (UTC)