Reviving Ancient Chinese Mathematics: Mathematics, History and Politics in the Work of Wu Wen-Tsun

Reviving Ancient Chinese Mathematics: Mathematics, History and Politics in the Work of Wu Wen-Tsun

by Jiri Hudecek
     
 

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This is a study of the life of one of modern China’s most admired scientific figures, the mathematician Wu Wen-Tsun, who found a path that not only ensured his political and personal survival, but which also brought him renown as a mathematician of international status who claimed that he stood outside the dominant western tradition of mathematics. However,

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Overview

This is a study of the life of one of modern China’s most admired scientific figures, the mathematician Wu Wen-Tsun, who found a path that not only ensured his political and personal survival, but which also brought him renown as a mathematician of international status who claimed that he stood outside the dominant western tradition of mathematics. However, Wu Wen-Tsun’s story highlights crucial developments and contradictions in twentieth century China whose significance goes far beyond the field of mathematics. On one side lies the appeal of radical scientific modernity, “mechanisation” in all its forms, and competitiveness within the international scientific community. On the opposite side is an anxiety to preserve national traditions and make them part of the modernisation project. But Wu’s intellectual development also reflects the complex relationship between science and Maoist ideology; his turn to history was powered by his internalisation of certain aspects of Maoist ideology, including its utilitarian philosophy of science. For the Western reader familiar with better known narratives of persecution and frustration in the lives of 20th century Chinese intellectuals, the story of how Wu managed to combine political success and international scientific eminence leads in directions that are highly relevant to a new century of increasing Chinese activity in the sciences.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780415702966
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
08/01/2014
Series:
Needham Research Institute Series
Pages:
222
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

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