East and West: China in the Transmission of Knowledge from East to West
Despite the distances between them and their totally different cultures, there has been more or less continuous communication between the West and China since classical Greek times. Although the connection was indirect and limited to trade in luxury goods, there were even in ancient times marvelous resemblances between Western and Chinese inventions in technology and engineering. Therefore it is natural to believe that a transmission of ideas and knowledge must have occurred, even if it is impossible to describe the exact exchange of any particular scientific achievement.
In the thirteenth century there was some considerable personal contact between the West and China, of which that of William of Ruisbroek (1210–1270), Marco Polo (1254–1324), and Odoric of Pordenone (1286–1331) are but the most famous examples. By the end of the sixteenth century in China an era of isolation ended and a new stage of intercultural exchange began. In this period the first Jesuit missionary fathers...
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