Sunday 14 June 2015

Joseph Needham

Why in news?
Recently Markandey Katju talked about him in one of his speeches.

Who was he?
a British scientist, historian and sinologist known for his scientific research and writing on the history of Chinese Science.

His Constribution

"Needham's Grand Question", also known as "The Needham Question", is why China had been overtaken by the West in science and technology, despite its earlier successes: “Why did modern science, the mathematization of hypotheses about Nature, with all its implications for advanced technology, take its meteoric rise only in the West at the time of Galileo [but] had not developed in Chinese civilisation (or Indian or Islamic)?”
"Gunpowder, the magnetic compass, and paper and printing, which Francis Bacon considered as the three most important inventions facilitating the West's transformation from the Dark Ages to the modern world, were invented in China".
 Needham's works attribute significant weight to the impact of Confucianism and Taoism on the pace of Chinese scientific discovery, and emphasises what it describes as the "diffusionist" approach of Chinese science as opposed to a perceived independent inventiveness in the western world. Needham held that the notion that the Chinese script had inhibited scientific thought was "grossly overrated".
He suggests "A continuing general and scientific progress manifested itself in traditional Chinese society but this was violently overtaken by the exponential growth of modern science after the Renaissance in Europe. China was homeostatic(The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes. ), but never stagnant."


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