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Analysis of the Article “Science in Traditional China”

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After reading the article “Science in Traditional China” by Joseph Needled, with your identification of the major arguments, write 800 words to comment on the article. ‘ The article “Science in Traditional China” written by Joseph Needled dwells on one central question, that is, why did modern science originate in Europe despite China’s sound attainment of natural knowledge and apparent technological superiority.

Needled presents a brief account of China’s various distinct scientific and/or technological achievements, followed by an inclusive concussion on factors that may have hindered or favored the development of modern science in China.

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This essay attempts to summarize and comment on two of Anathema’s main arguments that are directed to affirming China’s social facilitation on encouraging scientific development.

While Needled highlights how the prevalent organists conception may have assisted the development of Chinese scientific thinking, through citing their forward thinking in what sets the waves in motion and speculating the North- ward pointing tendency of the lodestone, he does not mention the other side of the coin.

It is believed that the dominance of this conviction hinders more than it favors scientific progress in China. Central to the belief organisms is the idea that all phenomena are interconnected.

Very similar to the Yin-Yang Www Sing Theory, they were universally adopted and both stress the interrelationships and interactions between everything in the universe. Medicine and astrology are examples of China’s many intellectual endeavors where the theory of Yin-Yang Www Sing carries a pivotal role. While this philosophy may be useful in explaining an array of phenomena, this does not mean that it can be applied universally.

However, as generally noted by critics, there has always been a thrust among Chinese to create a “harmonious worldview that link all forces and elements together” 1. In other words, the idea of Yin-Yang Www Sing or organisms becomes a preconception, a rigid and inflexible framework into which scholars try to fit in all of their observations, no matter which discipline they are from.

This way of thinking defies the very goal of scientific inquiry, which is to learn about how the world works. What is there left to wonder about how things function when one is already convinced by a single working principle? One may also argue that since the principle of falsification – which is core to defining a theory scientific – cannot be applied in this case, the Chinese way of knowing about Nature through this means is not scientific.

Thus, on the whole, the Chicane’s affirmation of this particular philosophy of Nature inhibits scientific development in the sense that it discourages people from generating new theories following the scientific method, to explain the many processes that occur in Nature. On the other hand, Needled argues that the centralized feudal bureaucratic overriding style facilitated the growth of applied science in the “early stages”2 in China. By “early stages” he may mean when this pattern of social order was first put into practice.

However, one could argue instead, that this particular pattern of ruling impeded the development of science and technology in the long run. Technology is generally understood to be science (knowledge about Nature, theorizing how things operate) applied to practical means, with the goal to improve human lives. In order for technological advancements in terms of applied science to occur, there ought to be new or updated scientific principles available for one to translate the theories into something practical at the first place.

Here, Needled asserts how inventions or scientific quests that find themselves valuable to society, such as the seismograph to predicting earthquakes and the meridian arc survey to constructing the Chinese calendar, are driven by the officials’ desires to facilitate ruling. Although the technological achievements that China attained in the fields of engineering and astrology are indeed indisputable and remarkable, the scope of science and technology are much wider than the few disciplines repeatedly appraised by Needled wrought the article.

While Needled recognizes the fact that in China, sciences are classified into “orthodox” and “unorthodox”3, he does not seem to notice how resources are unequally distributed between the two as a consequence. Much of the capital were given to sciences that were deemed “useful” from the scholar-gentry’s point of view. This is delineated by Anathema’s example of the elaborate constellation survey. Sciences labeled “unorthodox” or “less useful” such as alchemy are hence usually left with limited support to achieve its potential development.

As a result, scientific development becomes lopsided, s exemplified by China’s exceptional achievements in the limited fields of engineering and astronomer, and the subsequent unbalanced scientific and technological developments of the remaining fields of study. In brief, Anathema’s discussion on social factors that he claims to be favorable towards scientific development does not seem to be adequate. Nevertheless, the complexity of each factor itself, and in some cases the association with other further economic factors suggest that separate and more in depth studies are required to fully assess their respective impacts.

Cite this Analysis of the Article “Science in Traditional China”

Analysis of the Article “Science in Traditional China”. (2018, May 31). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/science-2/

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