It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Joseph Needham's Science and Civilisation in China series. For nearly fifty years, Needham and his collaborators have revealed the ideals, concepts and achievements of China's scientific and technological traditions from the earliest times to about 1800 through this great enterprise. During his long working lifetime, Needham kept in draft various essays, some written with collaborators, in which he set out his broad views on the Chinese social and historical context. These essays, edited by one of his closest collaborators, Kenneth Robinson, are contained in the present volume. A reading of this material makes it possible to reconstruct the assumptions and problematics that underpinned and drove the Needham project throughout the nearly one half century during which he was at the helm. The documents gathered here reveal the intellectual foundations of one of the greatest scholarly enterprises of the twentieth century.
1. Prefaces; 2. Foreword Joseph Needham; 3. Science and society in east and west Joseph Needham; 4. The roles of Europe and China in the evolution of ecumenical science Joseph Needham; 5. The nature of Chinese society: a technical interpretation Huang Jen-yu and Joseph Needham; 6. History and human values: a Chinese perspective for science and technology Joseph Needham; 7. Literary Chinese as a language for science Kenneth Robinson and Joseph Needham; 8. General conclusions; 9. Joseph Needham: a soliloquy Kenneth Robinson; Bibliographies.
Joseph Needham FRS (1900-1995) was the founder of the Science and Civilisation in China project. Kenneth Girdwood Robinson joined Joseph Needham in 1979 in Cambridge to help him complete the unpublished volumes of Science and Civilisation in China, and wrote several of the pieces included in the present volume.
Reviews for Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 7, The Social Background, Part 2, General Conclusions and Reflections
This is the concluding volume for General Conclusions and Reflections of the monumental seriesScience and Civilisation in China. Launched in 1994 it will total some 30 volumes when completed. Highly recommended. CHOICE Robinson has not only laid to rest, in his essay on literary language a prejudice reiterated over a century and a half; he has done everything anyone could do to make Joseph Needham's final views accessible. This volume will be invaluable to those interested in Needham's intellectual career, or capable of being inspired by his breadth of mind. Robinson's own writing makes it essential to everyone interested in the history of science worldwide. - China Review International Nathan Sivin, University of Pennsylvania [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