Caixin
Sep 03, 2022 10:30 AM
WEEKEND LONG READ

Weekend Long Read: Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Occur in China

An engraved plate depicts the Pekin Observatory, now known as the Beijing Ancient Observatory, in the 17th century. Photo: Universal History Archive/VCG
An engraved plate depicts the Pekin Observatory, now known as the Beijing Ancient Observatory, in the 17th century. Photo: Universal History Archive/VCG

Many would have heard of the “Needham Question” which asks: Why was China overtaken by the West in terms of science and technology, despite the ancient Chinese society’s superiority in these fields?

While this sounds straightforward, it actually involves two distinct concerns: one about science, the other about technology. Today we often think of science and technology collectively, but historically, these were distinct domains. And science often confronts the question of applicability — what is the practical use?

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