Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

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growthhormone
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Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 30th, 2018, 12:26 am

Why did scientific revolution happen in the West but not in other civilisations which had been more advanced in the ancient time like China and India? This is the so called Needham's Grand Question (李约瑟难题) https://tinyurl.com/y7salrj7 https://tinyurl.com/y95ab72b
Is this a philosophical issue? Yes, it is! It is related to the mechanism governing civilisation.

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Frost
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Frost » January 30th, 2018, 1:22 am

growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 12:26 am
Why did scientific revolution happen in the West but not in other civilisations which had been more advanced in the ancient time like China and India? This is the so called Needham's Grand Question (李约瑟难题) https://tinyurl.com/y7salrj7 https://tinyurl.com/y95ab72b
Is this a philosophical issue? Yes, it is! It is related to the mechanism governing civilisation.
The Catholic church played a major role, for sure. There was a great lineage of scholars that built up to the more famous scientific discoveries. The rationalist bent toward the world itself that emerged with the Catholics seemed unique. Indian religion is far, far older and has a great deal of complex metaphysical rational debate, yet it did not focus on the external world in the same way as Christianity did.

I also can't help but point out that the foundations of capitalism from the Catholic church also set the stage technologically. There is a common egregiously erroneous view that progress is driven by science/technology, when it is economics which permits science and technology to progress. China and India were backward economically and especially China was ruled by a totalitarian empire which crushed economic development. The fall of the Roman Empire seems to me to have been very important in the progress of Europe.

In short, Christianity, capitalism, and lack of empire.

growthhormone
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 30th, 2018, 1:43 am

Frost wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 1:22 am
growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 12:26 am
Why did scientific revolution happen in the West but not in other civilisations which had been more advanced in the ancient time like China and India? This is the so called Needham's Grand Question (李约瑟难题) https://tinyurl.com/y7salrj7 https://tinyurl.com/y95ab72b
Is this a philosophical issue? Yes, it is! It is related to the mechanism governing civilisation.
The Catholic church played a major role, for sure. There was a great lineage of scholars that built up to the more famous scientific discoveries. The rationalist bent toward the world itself that emerged with the Catholics seemed unique. Indian religion is far, far older and has a great deal of complex metaphysical rational debate, yet it did not focus on the external world in the same way as Christianity did.

I also can't help but point out that the foundations of capitalism from the Catholic church also set the stage technologically. There is a common egregiously erroneous view that progress is driven by science/technology, when it is economics which permits science and technology to progress. China and India were backward economically and especially China was ruled by a totalitarian empire which crushed economic development. The fall of the Roman Empire seems to me to have been very important in the progress of Europe.

In short, Christianity, capitalism, and lack of empire.
Thank for the input. The question actually is that is this related to the laws of physics?

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Frost
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Frost » January 30th, 2018, 10:27 am

growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 1:43 am
Thank for the input. The question actually is that is this related to the laws of physics?
What do you mean?

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Greta
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Greta » January 30th, 2018, 10:38 pm

I expect that other cultures would have gotten around to scientific inquiry in time, but the west picked it up first.

In many countries at the time, living was relatively easy, with bountiful plant and animal life. Those in colder climates needed to devise ways of protecting and feeding themselves. Further, being mostly cooped up indoors away from the cold for months leaves much time for thinking.

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Frost
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Frost » January 31st, 2018, 12:18 am

Greta wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 10:38 pm
In many countries at the time, living was relatively easy, with bountiful plant and animal life. Those in colder climates needed to devise ways of protecting and feeding themselves. Further, being mostly cooped up indoors away from the cold for months leaves much time for thinking.
Perhaps a contributing factor, but that didn't exactly spawn any scientific development with the Native Americans or the northern Asians.

Economics is undoubtedly a major factor. China had inventions blocked by emperors. Liberty is necessary for scientific progress, but this requires some level of wealth to allow for the leisure time of study and experimentation, capital for implementation, and the liberty to not have inventions taken away and destroyed. Without the proper capital structure, inventions beyond more primitive ones are not possible. You do not get particle accelerators without capital, and what is necessary for such capital formation has a tremendous background of other practices such as private property and free economic exchange, etc. These practices trace back to the ancient Greeks and took a long time to build up.

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Greta
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Greta » January 31st, 2018, 1:34 am

Frost, the OP later qualified his question, and he's looking for a physical answer. I wasn't sure what he meant either, but I've long figured that heat and cold would impact on the work ethic tendencies of societies, so I gave that a shot :).

The native Americans and northern Asians weren't crammed in together like the Europeans. Population density can be unpleasant but it's crucial for progress.

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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Steve3007 » January 31st, 2018, 4:22 am

Patent law in Europe seems to have had a big influence. And the invention of the marine chronometer allowing the accurate measurement of longitude.

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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Steve3007 » January 31st, 2018, 4:58 am

On a longer time scale: perhaps it was the geography of the Mediterranean Sea - and specifically the Ionian Sea - and the countries clustered around it. An ideal playground for civilisations to fight and trade with each other.

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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by Steve3007 » January 31st, 2018, 5:00 am

Actually I meant the Aegean Sea.

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JamesOfSeattle
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by JamesOfSeattle » January 31st, 2018, 1:39 pm

growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 1:43 am
Thank for the input. The question actually is that is this related to the laws of physics?
GH, everything is related to the laws of physics, but you could not possibly have a discussion on the topic of scientific revolution at the level of physics. You can only have a useful discussion on this topic at the level of culture, so economics, religion, etc.

*

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LuckyR
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by LuckyR » January 31st, 2018, 5:00 pm

growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 12:26 am
Why did scientific revolution happen in the West but not in other civilisations which had been more advanced in the ancient time like China and India? This is the so called Needham's Grand Question (李约瑟难题) https://tinyurl.com/y7salrj7 https://tinyurl.com/y95ab72b
Is this a philosophical issue? Yes, it is! It is related to the mechanism governing civilisation.
This topic is essentially the thrust of Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. Therefore I would count geography as a major if not the major determining factor.
"As usual... it depends."

growthhormone
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 31st, 2018, 9:59 pm

Greta wrote:
January 31st, 2018, 1:34 am
Frost, the OP later qualified his question, and he's looking for a physical answer. I wasn't sure what he meant either, but I've long figured that heat and cold would impact on the work ethic tendencies of societies, so I gave that a shot :).

The native Americans and northern Asians weren't crammed in together like the Europeans. Population density can be unpleasant but it's crucial for progress.
You have mentioned a few factors but these are not the most fundamental factors. :D

growthhormone
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 31st, 2018, 10:10 pm

JamesOfSeattle wrote:
January 31st, 2018, 1:39 pm
growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 1:43 am
Thank for the input. The question actually is that is this related to the laws of physics?
GH, everything is related to the laws of physics, but you could not possibly have a discussion on the topic of scientific revolution at the level of physics. You can only have a useful discussion on this topic at the level of culture, so economics, religion, etc.

*
"Everything is related to the laws of physics". You are absolutely right!!! I would say, everything is FUNDAMENTALLY related to the laws of physic.
"You can only have a useful discussion on this topic at the level of culture, so economics, religion, etc" NO, at the level of culture, so economics, religion, we can discuss this topic and it is a traditional way but the fundamental level is physics. To solve this problem, we need to look at all levels particularly at the level of physics. :D

growthhormone
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Re: Why scientific revolution happened in the West but not in other civilisation?

Post by growthhormone » January 31st, 2018, 10:12 pm

LuckyR wrote:
January 31st, 2018, 5:00 pm
growthhormone wrote:
January 30th, 2018, 12:26 am
Why did scientific revolution happen in the West but not in other civilisations which had been more advanced in the ancient time like China and India? This is the so called Needham's Grand Question (李约瑟难题) https://tinyurl.com/y7salrj7 https://tinyurl.com/y95ab72b
Is this a philosophical issue? Yes, it is! It is related to the mechanism governing civilisation.
This topic is essentially the thrust of Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel. Therefore I would count geography as a major if not the major determining factor.
"I would count geography as a major". Yes! but it is only one of the factors at particular level.

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