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"That Which Soaks And Descends Becomes Salty": The Concept Of Nature In Traditional Chinese Salt Production

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with an elucidation of traditional scientific explanations of the origin of salt, brine, and natural gas. First, an explanation of the origin of salt, as it is to be found in the Shujing (Classic of Documents), and the Chinese notion of the unfathomable nature of natural phenomena, are introduced. After the presentation of Chinese and Jesuit perceptions, the chapter briefly discusses three additional topics: the interpretation of the relative share of natural and human factors, religious dimensions, and political correlations in the production and output of salt, brine, or natural gas. In the end, the chapter gives an appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of traditional Chinese and Jesuit explanations, and points out in which way a historical account of the concept of nature in the traditional Chinese salt industry can contribute to a comparative developmental history of ideas and cultures.

Keywords: brine; natural gas; Shujing; traditional Chinese salt production



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