Joseph Needham

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Joseph Needham
Noel Joseph Terence Montgomery Needham
BirthplaceLondon, England
Historian, biochemist

Needham, Joseph

(nēd`əm), 1900–1995, British biochemist, historian of science, and sinologist, b. London. He had a lifelong association with Cambridge, where he was educated (Ph.D. 1924), taught biochemistry (1924–66), served as master of Gonville and Caius College (1966–76), and founded and directed the Needham Research Institute (1976–90). An embryologist, he wrote such books as Chemical Embryology (3 vol., 1931) and A History of Embryology (1934). Fascinated with all things Chinese, he learned Mandarin and headed (1942–46) the Sino-British Science Cooperation Office in Chongqing, China. After World War II he served (1946–48) as UNESCO's director of natural sciences. Needham wrote more than a dozen books, but by far his greatest achievement is the monumental Science and Civilization in China (7 vol., 1954–), a study of the history of Chinese science and technology and their relation to China's culture and society that was complete through its sixth volume at his death.


See M. Goldsmith, Joseph Needham: 20th-Century Renaissance Man (1995); S. K. Mukherjee and A. Ghosh, ed., The Life and Works of Joseph Needham (1997); P. Y. Ho, Reminiscence of a Roving Scholar: Science, Humanities, and Joseph Needham (2005); S. Winchester, The Man Who Loved China (2008).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The topics include the descent of theory, philosophical implications of connective histories of science, anthrocosmic processes in the Anthropocene: revisiting quantum mechanics versus Chinese cosmological comparison, Averroes and the development of a late medieval mechanical philosophy, Jamu: the indigenous medical arts of the Indonesian Archipelago, the Needham question and Southeast Asia, and rescuing science from civilization: on Joseph Needham's "Asiatic mode of (knowledge) production." ([umlaut] Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR)
The following three articles found on the web are particularly important in relation to the puzzle; Fan Dainian, "A Discussion on Reasons for China's Lagging behind in Science", Liu Dun, "A New Survey of the Needham Question" and Nathan Sivin, "Why the Scientific Revolution Did Not Take Place in China--or Did It?" These articles discuss three aspects of Needham's Puzzle.