Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/525

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

DECEMBER, 1911




SCIENCE AMONG THE CHINESE
By Dr. C. K. EDMUNDS

PRESIDENT OF CANTON CHRISTIAN COLLEGE

I. Introduction

(a) Chinese Science a Case of Arrested Development.—In scientific knowledge, as in nearly everything else, China presents a case of arrested development. Chinese conceptions regarding the body of man, the materials of the earth's crust, the surface forms of our globe, of its origin and process of formation, of the vast celestial universe through which it whirls, of the nature and origin of matter and of cosmogony in general, are the conceptions characteristic of western peoples before and during the middle ages. Not only so, but they are the same as were held by her own sages centuries before that period; in many cases they express the best thought of China's deep thinkers in the days of Pythagoras and perhaps prior to his time, while in others they give us the cream of Chinese philosophy as developed during the early days of the glorious Sung dynasty (A.D. 1020—1120). While of course those who have within the last few decades read the books of the west have modified their previous notions, the number of such as compared with the general people, though rapidly increasing, is still small and the purely Chinese conceptions of anatomy, physiology and medicine still consist of interacting functions of hypothetical organs, the intermixings of various vital fluids, and the subtle influence of capricious humors; chemistry is still alchemy; geography, mere guesswork; geology, vague mythology; astronomy, astrology; and exact physical science, nil. Science in China has made few advances during the last few centuries and is now but slowly responding to a new impulse from abroad in all its departments.

(b) Their Inventions, Arts, Engineering, not Evidence of Scientific Attainment.—To be sure, several striking inventions are probably to