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Cyclic Variation Of Astronomical Parameters And The Revival Of Trepidation In Japan

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Chapter Summary

During the seventeenth century in China, perhaps stimulated by the Jesuits' geometrical astronomy, the Chinese adherents of hsiao-ch'ang began to debate on its theoretical foundation. Gōryū introduced the idea of periodic variation of astronomical parameters in a precession cycle of 25,400 years. It seems that Gōryū did not fully comprehend the epicyclic system which appeared in the Sino-Jesuit works based on Tycho Brahe. During the Tokugawa period, Japanese astronomers were continually pre-occupied by the contrast between Chinese and Western astronomies, and tried to adopt whichever was preferable. While they generally followed Chinese astronomy in the first half of the period, Western astronomy became dominant during the latter half. During the period of transition, there appeared mental attitudes like that of Gōryū who tended to syncretize and synthesize Chinese and Western astronomy. His false originality, however, proved to be rather anachronistic in view of the rapid contemporary development of Western astronomy.

Keywords: astronomical parameters; Chinese astronomy; Gōryū; Japanese astronomers; Sino-Jesuit works



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