The Emperors New Mathematics: Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662…

Hardcover | January 1, 2012

byCatherine Jami

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In 1644 the Qing dynasty seized power in China. Its Manchu elite were at first seen by most of their subjects as foreigners from beyond the Great Wall, and the consolidation of Qing rule presented significant cultural and political problems, as well as military challenges. It was the Kangxiemperor (r. 1662-1722) who set the dynasty on a firm footing, and one of his main stratagems to achieve this was the appropriation for imperial purposes of the scientific knowledge brought to China by the Jesuit mission (1582-1773).For almost two centuries, the Jesuits put the sciences in the service of evangelization, teaching and practising what came to be known as 'Western learning' among Chinese scholars, many of whom took an active interest in it. After coming to the throne as a teenager, Kangxi began his life-longintervention in mathematical and scientific matters when he forced a return to the use of Western methods in official astronomy. In middle life, he studied astronomy, musical theory and mathematics, with Jesuits as his teachers. In his last years he sponsored a great compilation covering these threedisciplines, and set several of his sons to work on this project. All of this activity formed a vital part of his plan to establish Manchu authority over the Chinese. This book explains why Kangxi made the sciences a tool for laying the foundations of empire, and to show how, as part of thisprocess, mathematics was reconstructed as a branch of imperial learning.

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In 1644 the Qing dynasty seized power in China. Its Manchu elite were at first seen by most of their subjects as foreigners from beyond the Great Wall, and the consolidation of Qing rule presented significant cultural and political problems, as well as military challenges. It was the Kangxiemperor (r. 1662-1722) who set the dynasty on ...

Catherine Jami is a Director of Research at the French CNRS (SPHERE, Universite de Paris-Diderot). She originally trained as a mathematician, and then in Chinese studies. In the past she has served as presidents for both the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine and the Association Francai...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.69 × 7.44 × 0.98 inPublished:January 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199601402

ISBN - 13:9780199601400

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Table of Contents

ForewordIntroductionPart I Western learning and the Ming-Qing transition1. The Jesuits and mathematics in China, 1582-16442. Western learning under the new dynastyPart II The two first decades of Kangxi's rule3. The emperor and his astronomer4. A mathematical scholar in Jiangnan: the first half-life of Mei Wending5. The "Kings' Mathematicians"6. Inspecting the Southern sky: Kangxi at the Nanjing ObservatoryPart III Mathematics for the emperor7. Teaching "French science" at the court: Gerbillon and Bouvet's tutoring8. The imperial road to geometry: new 'Elements of Geometry'9. Calculation for the emperor: the writings of a discreet mathematician10. Astronomy in the capital (1689-1693): scholars, officials and rulerPart IV Turning to Chinese scholars and Bannermen11. The 1700s: a reversal of alliance12. The Office of Mathematics: foundation and staff13. The Jesuits and innovation in imperial science: Jean-Francois Foucquet's treatisesPart V Mathematics and the empire14. The construction of the 'Essence of numbers and their principles'15. Methods and material culture in the 'Essence of numbers and their principles'16. A new mathematical classic?ConclusionUnitsBibliography