Editorial : China - Picking up Threads from a Strong Tradition of Scholarship

Raza, Gauhar

Abstract

When Joseph Needham started looking at the development of science and technology in China, for most western scholars, it was still ‘the barbaric oriental enigma’. He asked a simple question, ‘what were the inhibiting factors that prevented the rise of modern science in the Chinese civilisation?’ The pursuit resulted in a monumental work on Chinese contribution to the pool of human knowledge. Needham’s painstaking work, which runs into seven volumes and 27 books reintroduced China to other civilizations in general and to the western world in parti-cular. As opposed to prevailing understanding, Needham’s China was scientifically rich and technologically mature. The obser-vations about Chinese as well as about Indian civilization made in the nineteenth century, continued to blur the vision of scholars through the first half of the twentieth century, even after the detailed work of Needham. It took time to correct the academic myopia.

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