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Time, Science, and Society in China and the West

The Study of Time V

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For the first fifteen centuries of Western civilization, the Chinese were far ahead of Europe in applying their knowledge of nature to useful purposes. Why, then, did modern mathematized science, with all its implications for advanced technology, rise meteorically in Renaissance Europe rather than in China? Prompted by this observation, Joseph Needham explored the paradox three decades ago in what he termed "The Scientific Revolution Problem."

This collection of original papers continues the exploration. Focusing on the idea and experience of time, twenty-four scholars from China and the West speak of the different aspects of cultural life and tradition that favored the creation of mathematized science in Europe and discouraged such development in China.

An understanding of this cultural history is of interest to modern China, which labors to join the advanced scientific and technological communities of the world. It is also of interest to those concerned with the position of science and technology in the West, since a comparative interpretation of the origins of Western advances helps identify the many problems those very advances have created.

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