Knowledge Systems in China

  • Yang Di‐Sheng
Reference work entry

The science and technology developed in China often led the world before the fifteenth century. Statistics of significant discoveries in the world from the sixth century BCE to the nineteenth century AD show that before the year 1500, discoveries made in China comprised more than half of the total (Guo Jianrong and Guo Guangyin 1987). Then, the percentage dropped rapidly, and in the nineteenth century it became less than 1%.

The mode of development of science in China is, roughly speaking, a slowly progressed “mode of accumulation.” It is not full of ups and downs like the Western saddle‐shaped “mode of revolution”.

In contrast to the West, Chinese scientific and technological achievements mainly belonged to the technical and empirical type. The Chinese were less inclined to use theoretical and experimental methods. The four best known inventions – compass, gunpowder, paper, and printing – when they came to Europe, exerted a great influence on the West.

The most developed sciences in...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Yang Di‐Sheng

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