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History Of East Asian Science: Needs And Opportunities

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes and assesses assumptions and values reflected in the historiography of East Asian science. The historical centre of Western science moved from Babylonia to classical Greece to Hellenistic Egypt, India, and the Middle East, and thence to medieval Europe. After the Second World War the history of science rapidly became a professional academic field. Pre-modernists cultivate a bibliophilic attitude, rather like a hobbyist's, but modernists now tend to use computer databases systematically in the interest of efficiency. In the study of East Asian science, the formidable requirement for research in primary sources sharply divides those proficient in Asian languages from those who are not. Scientists who can read only English tend to think that all important writings are available in the English language. Most traditional historians of science have depended on the value system of the academic community, of which they themselves are members.

Keywords: academic community; Asian languages; East Asian science; pre-modernists; Second World War



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