For the first fifteen centuries of Western civilization, the Chinese were far ahead of Europe in applying their knowledge of nature to useful purposes. Why, then, did modern mathematized science, with all its implications for advanced technology, rise meteorically in Renaissance Europe rather than in China? Prompted by this observation, Joseph Needham explored the paradox three decades ago in what he termed "The Scientific Revolution Problem."
This collection of original papers continues the exploration. Focusing on the idea and experience of time, twenty-four scholars from China and the West speak of the different aspects of cultural life and tradition that favored the creation of mathematized science in Europe and discouraged such development in China.
An understanding of this cultural history is of interest to modern China, which labors to join the advanced scientific and technological communities of the world. It is also of interest to those concerned with the position of science and technology in the West, since a comparative interpretation of the origins of Western advances helps identify the many problems those very advances have created.
About the Author
Founder of the International Society for the Study of Time, J.T. Fraser is author of Of Time, Passion, and Knowledge (1975), Time as Conflict (1978), and The Genesis and Evolution of Time (1982). The 1975 and 1982 books were Library of Science selections. The Voices of Time: A Cooperative Survey of Man's View of Time as Expressed by the Sciences and by the Humanities (2nd ed., 1981), which was commended by Science as deserving "the highest praise for bringing together in a single volume such a cluster of distinguished scholarship." He is the senior editor of The Study of Time Series (1972-) of which Time, Science, and Society in China and the West is the fifth volume.
The late N. Lawrence was Massachusetts Professor of Philosophy at Williams College and chair of the department. He held degrees in biology, divinity, and philosophy and taught at UCLA, Yale, Harvard, and from 1956 until his death in 1986, at Williams College. His works include books on Whitehead, on existential phenomenology, and on the philosophical themes in modern education; he coedited The Study of Time II-V.
F.C. Haber is professor of history at the University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to other publications, he has articles in The Study of Time I and II.