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Undisputed masters of invention and discovery for 3000 years the ancient Chinese were the first to discover the solar wind and the circulation of the blood and even isolate sex hormones From the suspension bridge and the seismograph to deep drilling for natural gas the iron plough and the parachute ancient China’s contributions in the fields of engineering medicine technology mathematics science transportation warfare and music helped inspire the European agricultural and industrial revolutionsSince its original publication The Genius of China has won. Review title What China did firstIis pretty much everything says Temple This book pays tribute to the fruits of a large population over long periods of time with an empirical mindsetFirst a bit of history a subject the Chinese probably invented although too broad to be cataloged here Temple is a devotee of Joseph Needham the scientist turned Sinologist made famous by Simon Winchester s biography The man who loved China The Genius of China is in fact an authorized synopsis of the massive Science and Civilisation in China 13 volumes published in 1986 when Temple wrote 24 at the time of Winchester s 2008 biography and still in progress despite Needham s passing in 1995 of which Needham is the authoreditor Clearly such a mass of data is not likely to be affordable or accessible to the average reader so Temple performs a valuable service with his synopsis And the data is staggering The endpapers show graphically not just the date of precedence for the Chinese inventions and discoveries in the various fields of science engineering medicine technology mathematics transportation exploration and warfare but by horizontal bar graph the lag before adoption or reinvention in the west The lag is typically measured in several centuries even millennia Arranged encyclopedicly the book has an entry for each discovery or invention that documents the event with the earliest date for reliable contemporary evidence and pictures of the device or discovery sometimes from contemporary sources sometimes from photographs of current iterations of itIf you have read Winchester s biography or otherwise know something of Needham s life you can expect that this book isn t just a history of technology and discovery but a history with a purpose to show that China was and is superior to the West in its ways of thinking The comments sometimes uoted from Needham and sometimes directly from Temple about the long lags and European deficiencies in understanding and applying the Chinese advances can be uite snarky even inappropriate for a scholarly journal But then this isn t a scholarly journal is it It is a popularization of a massive undertaking by a committed and confirmed apologist for Chinese supremacy in these areas so take it with whatever dosage of salt you feel is appropriateBut you must in any case be impressed with the body of knowledge compiled here As I said in my lead it is a testimony to the incredible inventive power of large populations of people with an empirical mindset over long periods of time in a society with a stable language culture and government As Temple points out many of the Chinese inventions were empirically discovered and applied to solve specific problems without processing through rigorous scientific methods to understand or extend the implications to theory or other applicationsThe introductory essays by Needham and Temple briefly address some key uestions that the book will raise to the perceptive reader 1 Why did it take so long for the West to rediscover or adopt these ideas 2 Why were so many of these ideas lost or forgotten even within China so that the Western rediscovery seems to be uniue and new even to China 3 Why did this inventiveness seem to reach a peak and then fade out sometime around the 14th century 4 Might the answers to any of these uestions be related to each other and to the increasing contact between China and the West starting around the time of Marco PoloThis book doesn t undertake to answer these uestions just to dazzle with the breadth of Chinese precedence in science discovery and invention and it serves nicely

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China Land of Discovery and Invention

Visiting professor of the history and philosophy of science at Tsinghua University in Beijing He also is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; member of the Egypt Exploration Society Royal Historical Society Institute of Classical Studies and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies; and visiting research fellow of the University of the Aegean in Greece He is the author of ten books including The Sirius Mystery and Oracles of the Dead and lives in England with his wife OliviaNOTE Original UK title was 'China Land of Discovery and Inventio. Not the most elegant prose but an eye opening book nevertheless Temple and Needham illustrate the enormous debt the modern world owes the ancient Chines

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Five literary awards in America and been translated into forty three languages Its Chinese edition The Spirit of Chinese Invention was approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education for use in connection with the national secondary curriculum in China Based on the immense authoritative scholarship of the late Joseph Needham the world’s foremost scholar of Chinese science and including a foreword by him this revised full color illustrated edition brings to life the spirit and excitement of the unparalleled achievements of ancient China ROBERT TEMPLE is a. Excellent book on inventions and discovery that originated in China by Robert Temple a disciple of Dr Joseph NeedhamOne uestion is whether these ideas originated in China and migrated to Europe or whether they were independently developed in Europe On the migration side Temple provides numerous period records that support the migration However in some cases the link is not documented and it would appear that the idea was independent but laterThe best part of the book is the detail For example printing started around 700 with many of the sets of blocks surviving today one set is 81258 blocks Unlike today the blocks were used for short runs with the blocks being stored until the demand supported a new runAlso some amusing stories Their first use of paper money lead to firsts in inflation and counterfeitingMuch of the detail is fascinating and leads to further reading


10 thoughts on “China Land of Discovery and Invention

  1. says:

    Let me start my one star review by saying that this book can be pretty fun and that there are good reasons to read it If

  2. says:

    Review title What China did firstIis pretty much everything says Temple This book pays tribute to the fruits of a large population ove

  3. says:

    The perfect answer to knowing of China's history of inventions without having to buy all of Needham's volumes

  4. says:

    Excellent book on inventions and discovery that originated in China by Robert Temple a disciple of Dr Joseph NeedhamOne uestion is whether these ideas originated in China and migrated to Europe or whether they were independently developed in Europe On the migration side Temple provides numerous period records that support the migration However in some cases the link is not documented and it would appear that the idea was

  5. says:

    So the book is kinda outdated the editors proudly assert that the abacus is still the primary form of number crunching in the modern Chinese bank but it doesn't detract from the book Apparently almost everything worth inventing up until the 18th century was invented by the Chinese Undoubtedly the authors have a tendentious view of

  6. says:

    Joseph Needham says in his Foreward It is in its own way a brilliant distillation of my Science and Civilization in China published by the Cambridge University Press a work which will be complete in some twenty five volumes and of which fifteen have now appeared or are passing through the press

  7. says:

    A truly wonderful book The information is concise and interesting and the proof to back up that the Chinese were one of the most ad

  8. says:

    An absolutely marvelous book The pictures were amazing The combined work of Robert Temple and Joseph Needham was fantastic It just goes to show how little regard Western cultures have for other cultures and like to conveniently forget how achievements were made

  9. says:

    Not the most elegant prose but an eye opening book nevertheless Temple and Needham illustrate the enormous debt the modern world owes the ancient Chines

  10. says:

    Only read the first chapter but there were no citations and no analysis of why China as so innovative Also Game of Thrones began dominating my reading life So Back to the library

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