Chapter

Methods and material culture in the <i>Essence of numbers and their principles</i>

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/9780199601400.003.0016
Methods and material culture in the Essence of numbers and their principles

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The reworking of Western learning by the Office of Mathematics is anchored in Chinese learning in two ways: by a historical narrative and by the central role ascribed to numbers in the definition of the field. The dichotomy opposing Western learning to Chinese learning was certainly of some significance to scholars at the time. However, one may ask to what extent it is relevant and useful for understanding the imperial compendium, in which the dichotomy is not only passed over in silence, but is also invisible. Thus, in its second part, problems of both Chinese and Western origins appear side by side. This chapter discusses a few problems, their genealogy, and the culture they reflect, in an attempt to situate the emperor's mathematics both within the history of this field and within the culture of his time.

Keywords: mathematics; Chinese learning; Western learning; genealogy; culture

Chapter.  9466 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Mathematics

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