Needham Question

Topics: People's Republic of China, History of China, Qing Dynasty Pages: 2 (686 words) Published: June 22, 2013
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham, 9 December 1900 – 24 March 1995, also known as Li Yuese, was a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese science.  His grand question is: Why was China overshot by the West in science and technology?  What happened in the history of China that made developing science and technology less important? What happened in Europe that made developing science and technology more important? What are the factors that caused China to be overshot? Needham’s question has intrigued many generations of scholars and philosophers. It’s an important question to ponder over. 1- Introduction

During the Renaissance and into modern times, the west countries took a leading role in scientific discovery and invention, while China stagnated.  Boasting one of the world's most glaring agricultural civilizations, China's agriculture began in the remote antiquity when there was still no written history. China’s economy system emphasized agriculture, whereas Western countries enjoyed growing trade and manufacturing. 2- Reasons

One of the convincing answer to those questions attributes Western dominance to the rise of capitalism. Even the most militant enemies of capitalism credit it with creating previously undreamed of productivity and progress. The capitalist system was "the first to show what man's activity can bring about." Capitalism achieved that miracle through regular reinvestment to increase productivity, either to create greater capacity or improve technology. Although many factors might contribute to the emergence of capitalism and modern science in the West: openness of economy and society was a necessary condition for developing to the capitalism and modern technology. There was an astonishing contrast between the openness of the Western economy and the closeness of Chinese society. Encouraging foreign trade and protecting city business was the traditional...
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