Chapter

The Jesuits and mathematics in China, 1582–1644

Catherine Jami

in The Emperor's New Mathematics

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199601400
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191729218 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601400.003.0002
The Jesuits and mathematics in China, 1582–1644

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This chapter outlines the beginnings of Western learning in China during the years 1582 to 1644, the last six decades of the Ming dynasty; it discusses the Jesuits' teaching of mathematics in China during that period, and the translations that resulted from their work. The most famous of these is the Jihe yuanben (1607), a rendering into Chinese of the first six books of Euclid's Elements of geometry. One of the reasons for the success of the Jesuits' teaching was the perceived relevance of their mathematical knowledge to statecraft. In 1629, some of them were employed to work on calendar reform, the need for which had been felt for almost half a century.

Keywords: imperial China; Western learning; mathematics; Jesuits; Jihe yuanben; calendar reform

Chapter.  8860 words. 

Subjects: History of Mathematics

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