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Why the Scientific Revolution did not Take Place in China–Or Did It? Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Dec 7th, 2019

Introduction

During the 16th and 17th centuries, new ideas were invented in the fields of biology, astronomy, chemistry and physics. These inventions transformed ancient and medieval perception of nature into modern science in the period that was called the scientific revolution.

Scientific revolution began in Europe towards the end of the renaissance period. According to Sivin (10), it was during this period that human beings began explaining natural happenings without consultation of the Christian doctrine.

Discussion

The history of science and technology in China contributed much to the advancement of the global knowledge in science and technology. Philosophers in China made advancements in various disciplines including astronomy, mathematics, science and technology.

Herbal and traditional Chinese medicine played an important role in the society. One of the ideas invented by the Chinese includes the shadow clock. Kites and Kongming lanterns are among other flying machines that were invented in China.

The use of the compass, papermaking and printing as well as gunpowder spread to Europe and other countries in the world from China (Sivin 13).

There are many reasons put forward to explain the reason behind the failure of scientific revolution in China. One of the reasons is geographical position of the country. The climate of Britain favors agriculture because of its fertile soils and animal keeping especially in the western parts of the country.

Incidences of drought and diseases were rare in Britain. Apart from providing meat, animals served industrial purposes in Britain such as pulling ploughs and transportation of goods, a factor that contributed to its development (Sivin 15).

Ecological benefits of Britain contributed much towards its industrialization unlike China. For instance, mines that were near markets made it easy for transportation of minerals. The northern part of China had coalmines that made the place unsafe as people feared attacks that forced them to migrate to the southern parts hence preventing extraction of coal.

The steam power discovered from coal in Britain provided transport facilities using powerful machinery contributing to industrial revolution. Coal was obtained from Britain at cheaper prices motivating the country to continue with innovations (Sivin 20). This was not the case for China.

The population of China plays a significant role in explaining why scientific revolution did not take place in the country. During this period, the population of China was higher than that of Europe. Laborers were paid low wages in China than in Europe because so many people were in need of jobs.

Due to this reason, China did not see the need of developing devices to replace human labor. Furthermore, labor was not a problem. On the contrary, Europe had a small population and a large piece of arable land. In addition to this,

Europe was frequently affected by natural disasters such as wars, famine and epidemics that reduced the population making it easier for countries in the region to manage their population needs. In addition, it meant that Europe had to look for ways of providing labor therefore establishing mechanization as the solution to their problem. The sparse population and need for employees meant increased salaries (Guohao Mengwen and Tianqin 83).

Britain was technologically advanced than China that led to the earlier scientific revolution. Industrialization was mainly based on technological development and Europe had invented many things. For instance, Europe discovered how to capture heat and utilize it for human benefit. The problem in China was because subsequent generations seemed to start from scratch instead of going on in advancing ideas already invented by earlier generations (Guohao Mengwen and Tianqin 120).

The complex culture of the Chinese was a reason towards its delay in scientific revolution. Cultural traditions and customs like mode of diet commonly referred to as the cuisine, literature, music among other things vary from one city to another. The country was made up of different ethnic groups whose traditional practices were different.

This implied that there was no unity in the country as far as cultural practices were concerned. This made it difficult to join the people together for development of the county. Ebrey Walthall and Palais point out that for successful technological advancement, people should have common values and practices as symbol of unity (369).

Scientific revolution was delayed because China did not produce surplus that could be exchanged with other countries to earn them foreign exchange. The country’s main crop was rice and most of it was consumed locally.

In addition to this, accessibility was a problem. Transport facilities were not fully developed for easy transportation of goods making it difficult for commerce, which was crucial in the development of the economy (Ebrey Walthall and Palais 372).

Conclusion

In conclusion, scientific revolution marked a very significant period in many countries because it led to advancement in technology. In spite of the importance attached to the phase, China did not encounter the phase revolution at the same time when Europe did because of its large population, geographical setting and inadequate output.

Before this period, most of the work was done manually, which was untidy and time-consuming. However, the invention of machine labor made work easier. Work that should have been done for many days could be done in few hours.

Works Cited

Ebrey, Patricia, Walthall Anne and Palais, James. East Asia: A cultural, social, and political history. London: Cengage Learning, 2008.Print.

Guohao, In, Mengwen, Zhang and Tianqin, Cao. Explorations in the history of science and technology in china. Shanghai: Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House, 1982.Print.

Sivin, Nathan. Why the scientific revolution did not take place in China or did it? Shanghai: Chinese Science, 1982.Print

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