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Science in Traditional China

Science in Traditional China

Joseph Needham

ISBN 9780674794399

Publication date: 01/01/1981

The world’s preeminent authority on Chinese science explores the philosophy, social structure, arts, crafts, and even military strategies that form our understanding of Chinese science, making instructive comparisons along the way to similar elements of Indian, Hellenistic, and Arabic cultures. A major portion of the book concentrates on Taoist alchemy that led not only to the invention of gunpowder and firearms, but also, through the search for macrobiotic life-elixirs, to the rise of modern medical chemistry.


  • Freewheeling, amusing, constantly alert and rarely dogmatic… Needham keeps the reader aware of the place of China within a comparative context of global scientific discovery… [A] stimulating book.

    —Jonathan Spence, New York Times Book Review

Book Details

  • 144 pages
  • 6 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Press