The second volume of Dr Joseph Needham's great work Science and Civilisation in China is devoted to the history of scientific thought. Beginning with ancient times, it describes the Confucian milieu in which arose the organic naturalism of the great Taoist school, the scientific philosophy of the Mohists and Logicians, and the quantitative materialism of the Legalists. Thus we are brought on to the fundamental ideas which dominated scientific thinking in the Chinese middle ages. The author opens his discussion by considering the remote and pictographic origins of words fundamental in scientific discourse, and then sets forth the influential doctrines of the Two Forces and the Five Elements. Subsequently he writes of the important sceptical tradition, the effects of Buddhist thought, and the Neo-Confucian climax of Chinese naturalism. Last comes a discussion of the conception of Laws of Nature in China and the West.
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
Series: Science and Civilisation in China
03 March 1956
Professional and scholarly
List of illustrations; List of tables; List of abbreviations; Acknowledgements; Author's note; 8. Introduction; 9. The Ju Chia (Confucians) and Confucianism; 10. The Tao Chia (Taoists) and Taoism; 11. The Mo Chia (Mohists) and the Ming Chia (Logicians); 12. The fundamental ideas of Chinese science; 14. The Pseudo-Sciences and the sceptical tradition; 15. Buddhist thought; 16. Chin and Thang Taoists, and Sung Neo-Confucians; 17. Sung and Ming idealists, and the last great figures of indigenous naturalism; 18. Human law and the laws of nature in China and the West; Bibliographies; General index.
Reviews for Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 2, History of Scientific Thought
[An] astonishing and enduring study...[Needham brings] depth of emotion and technical finesse to his task. Jonathan Spence, New York Review of Books Perhaps the greatest single act of historical synthesis and intercultural communication ever attempted by one man. Laurence Picken, Cambridge University