The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China

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9780226735849: The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China
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The last decades of the Ming dynasty, though plagued by chaos and destruction, saw a significant increase of publications that examined advances in knowledge and technology. Among the numerous guides and reference books that appeared during this period was a series of texts by Song Yingxing (1587–1666?), a minor local official living in southern China. His Tiangong kaiwu, the longest and most prominent of these works, documents the extraction and processing of raw materials and the manufacture of goods essential to everyday life, from yeast and wine to paper and ink to boats, carts, and firearms.

            
In The Crafting of the 10,000 Things, Dagmar Schäfer probes this fascinating text and the legacy of its author to shed new light on the development of scientific thinking in China, the purpose of technical writing, and its role in and effects on Chinese history. Meticulously unfolding the layers of Song’s personal and cultural life, Schäfer chronicles the factors that motivated Song to transform practical knowledge into written culture. She then examines how Song gained, assessed, and ultimately presented knowledge, and in doing so articulates this era’s approaches to rationality, truth, and belief in the study of nature and culture alike.  Finally, Schäfer places Song’s efforts in conjunction with the work of other Chinese philosophers and writers, before, during, and after his time, and argues that these writings demonstrate collectively a uniquely Chinese way of authorizing technology as a legitimate field of scholarly concern and philosophical knowledge.


Offering an overview of a thousand years of scholarship, The Crafting of the 10,000 Things explains the role of technology and crafts in a culture that had an outstandingly successful tradition in this field and was a crucial influence on the technical development of Europe on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.

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About the Author:

Dagmar Schäfer is head of the independent research group Concepts and Modalities: Practical Knowledge Transmission in China at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

Review:

“An erudite, nuanced, and groundbreaking contribution to the study of science and technology in early modern China. Highly recommended.” (H. Doss Choice)

The Crafting of the 10,000 Things is open to any readers who enjoy intellectual adventures.” (Chu Pingyi Isis)

“[A] brilliant and subtle investigation of the philosophy of technology in early modern China.” (Peter C. Perdue Technology and Culture)

“[A] completely new reading of Tiangong kaiwu that lends it a depth no scholar has previously detected. . . . [A] major contribution.” (Timothy Brook, University of British Columbia Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies)

The Crafting of the 10,000 Things is a great achievement, which will repay careful reading on the part of historians of Western Europe and other parts of the world, as well as of China.” (Pamela O. Long Metascience)

“Schäfer brings Song and his book out of the narrower history of Chinese technology to integrate him into the broader field of Chinese history as well as the global history of science beyond East Asia. For these and other qualities, the History of Science Society awarded this book their 2012 Pfizer Award for most outstanding book on the history of science. Just as Song’s Works of Heaven opens up the world of craftsmen’s knowledge in seventeenth-century China, Schäfer’s The Crafting of the 10,000 Things arguably exemplifies an illuminating approach to the craft of writing on the global history of science in the present.” (Marta Hanson, Johns Hopkins University Journal of Asian Studies)

“When it was first rediscovered in Japan early last century, modernist Japanese, Chinese, and Euro-American scholars hastily assimilated Song Yingxing’s Tiangong kaiwu to the accruing literature on the allegedly ill-fated history of science and technology in late imperial China. They framed an overdetermined view of Song’s accomplishments in light of the failure of China to develop ‘modern science.’ This simple-minded teleology has now been challenged by Dagmar Schäfer. Schäfer contextualizes Song’s so-called magnum opus by placing this longest and most prominent of Song’s works alongside his other writings, and reenacts for us the culturally embedded practices that informed Song Yingxing’s career of knowledge-making in a time of precocious commercialization and commoditization in Ming China.” 
(Benjamin A. Elman, Princeton University)

 “The Crafting of the 10,000 Things is a richly textured study of knowledge in the making, seen through the life and thought of Song Yingxing, a seventeenth-century philosophical iconoclast whose study of technologies laid out a radical view of cosmological processes and their relation to human nature. Dagmar Schäfer offers a provocative and convincing portrait of a maverick but comprehensive thinker who, in the white heat of indignation provoked by a political scandal, wove a complex and coherent theory of cosmic process and human action into a set of arresting texts on the heavens, on human crafts, on sound, on politics, and ethics, all inextricably commingled in Chinese natural philosophy. This brilliant book will be attractive and accessible to students and scholars in the cultural history of science and technology, in intellectual history, and in world history, as well as in Chinese studies.” (Francesca Bray, University of Edinburgh)

“Dagmar Schäfer uses the remarkable work of the Ming scholar and minor official Song Yingxing to bring together the philosophical values of tradition and innovation among the Ming intellectual elite with the material culture of jade, silk, farming, and many other crafts. She is sensitive to all the registers of these objects: how they were processed, made, and marketed; their role in determining status in a steeply but subtly graded hierarchy; the economics of their manufacture and sale; the symbolic and philosophical uses to which they were put. In her hands, Song’s idiosyncratic cosmology becomes a lens through which to see Ming theoretical and practical culture in a new light.” (Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin)

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9780226272801: The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth-Century China

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The last decades of the Ming dynasty, though plagued by chaos and destruction, saw major advances in knowledge and technology. Among the numerous guides and reference books that appeared during this period was a series of texts by Song Yingxing (1587-1666?), a minor local official living in southern China. His Tiangong kaiwu , the longest and most prominent of these works, documents the extraction and processing of raw materials, and the manufacture of goods essential to everyday life, from pearls and wine to boats, carts, and firearms. In The Crafting of the 10,000 Things Dagmar Schafer probes this fascinating text and the legacy of its author to shed new light on the development of scientific thinking in China, the purpose of technical writing, and its role in and effects on Chinese history. Meticulously unfolding the layers of Song s personal and cultural life, Schafer places the Tiangong kaiwu squarely in its original milieu - both practically and theoretically - and thus develops a new understanding of scientific and technological thinking. Even as she vividly sets the Chinese scene, Schafer offers incisive comparisons between seventeenth-century China and Europe. Sinologists and historians of science alike will be engrossed by this book, the first to place Song s writing in a broader context. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226735849

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The last decades of the Ming dynasty, though plagued by chaos and destruction, saw major advances in knowledge and technology. Among the numerous guides and reference books that appeared during this period was a series of texts by Song Yingxing (1587-1666?), a minor local official living in southern China. His Tiangong kaiwu , the longest and most prominent of these works, documents the extraction and processing of raw materials, and the manufacture of goods essential to everyday life, from pearls and wine to boats, carts, and firearms. In The Crafting of the 10,000 Things Dagmar Schafer probes this fascinating text and the legacy of its author to shed new light on the development of scientific thinking in China, the purpose of technical writing, and its role in and effects on Chinese history. Meticulously unfolding the layers of Song s personal and cultural life, Schafer places the Tiangong kaiwu squarely in its original milieu - both practically and theoretically - and thus develops a new understanding of scientific and technological thinking. Even as she vividly sets the Chinese scene, Schafer offers incisive comparisons between seventeenth-century China and Europe. Sinologists and historians of science alike will be engrossed by this book, the first to place Song s writing in a broader context. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226735849

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2011. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. The last decades of the Ming dynasty, though plagued by chaos and destruction, saw major advances in knowledge and technology. Among the numerous guides and reference books that appeared during this period was a series of texts by Song Yingxing (1587-1666?), a minor local official living in southern China. His Tiangong kaiwu , the longest and most prominent of these works, documents the extraction and processing of raw materials, and the manufacture of goods essential to everyday life, from pearls and wine to boats, carts, and firearms. In The Crafting of the 10,000 Things Dagmar Schafer probes this fascinating text and the legacy of its author to shed new light on the development of scientific thinking in China, the purpose of technical writing, and its role in and effects on Chinese history. Meticulously unfolding the layers of Song s personal and cultural life, Schafer places the Tiangong kaiwu squarely in its original milieu - both practically and theoretically - and thus develops a new understanding of scientific and technological thinking. Even as she vividly sets the Chinese scene, Schafer offers incisive comparisons between seventeenth-century China and Europe. Sinologists and historians of science alike will be engrossed by this book, the first to place Song s writing in a broader context. Seller Inventory # BTE9780226735849

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