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Japanese Scientific Thought

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Chapter Summary

In seventeenth-century Europe the goals and approaches of modern science were established by the scientific revolution. The professionalization of science in the nineteenth century, sometimes called the second scientific revolution, was no less important. When science became a full-time vocational activity, even the perception of nature was reorganized. Technical professions began in Japan with the immigration of Korean and Chinese experts in the sixth to eighth centuries. Although astrology and alchemy often are called pseudosciences, they are neither misconceived sciences nor forerunners of modern science. The older astronomical institutions of Japan were devoted to inherited responsibilities from which the incumbent could not freely deviate. Elaboration and precision were the criteria by which calendrical treatises were evaluated in prefaces written by astronomers. Traditional Chinese medicine, upon which learned tradition of Japan depended, was concerned primarily with function and secondarily with tissues and organs. Japanese science developed within framework of Confucian values.

Keywords: astronomical institutions; Confucian values; Japanese science; scientific revolution; traditional Chinese medicine



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