ASIAN 365 - Science in Premodern China
Section: 001
Term: FA 2007
Subject: Asian Studies (ASIAN)
Department: LSA Asian Languages & Cultures
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course is intended as an introduction to the basic problems and issues in Chinese medicine, astronomy, chemistry, and mathematics before the 14th century. In addition to examining the content of what many scholars construe as Chinese science and natural philosophy, this course will examine two themes at length. The first is how one should define science. Is science, as older scholars assumed, a timeless, cross-cultural phenomenon that emerged exclusively in 17th and 18th-century Europe? Or is science socially and culturally contingent? Is there, in other words, more than one effective way to represent and predict natural phenomenon? The second theme involves the “Needham thesis,” which argues that China, despite early advances in natural philosophy and proto-science, failed to develop “modern science” because of the adoption of Confucianism as state orthodoxy in the early 14th century. In addition to reading the monumental works of Joseph Needham (1900-1995) and others, students will be asked to evaluate the Needham thesis by examining the primary sources Needham et al. drew upon to make their arguments. Readings will focus equally on primary and secondary sources in English. In addition to weekly “response” paragraphs, students will give oral presentations and write two 6 to 8-page papers critically treating the secondary literature by examining the primary sources from which scholars have drawn conclusions about some aspect of Chinese science and natural philosophy. No knowledge of Chinese language or China is required, and the course is open to all.

ASIAN 365 - Science in Premodern China
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
TuTh 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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