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Toward a History of Modern Science in Republican China

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Chapter Summary

Despite the recent increase in the number of teachers of the history of science and medicine, historians of "Chinese science" until recently have spent much of their time researching issues in premodern natural studies and, usually, trying to explain why modern science, technology, and medicine arrived so late in China. Chinese had incorporated algebra and geometry, and made natural studies a part of classical studies in the eighteenth century. Benjamin Hobson's work represented the first sustained introduction of the modern European sciences and medicine in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among treaty ports, Shanghai by 1860 was the main center of foreign trade, international business, and missionary activity. When we compare the development of modern physics in Meiji-Japan and Qing China, we find that scholars in both countries had started to master Western studies in the early and mid-nineteenth century.

Keywords: Benjamin Hobson; Meiji-Japan; modern European medicine; modern European science; modern physics; modern science; Republican China; treatise of natural philosophy



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