Re: Chinese romance pornographic?

Date: Wed Apr 04 2001 - 07:27:40 MDT

In a message dated 4/1/01 1:50:54 PM Central Daylight Time,

> One last question:
> Do you think the ideographic language of China has held them back from
> scientific exploration, since phonetic language can more easily coin new
> terms
> for discovered phenomena?

I don't think it's directly a matter of language. Actually, the Chinese have
been quite adept at developing neologisms for the new technology they have
encountered since the forced opening to the West that began 200 years ago.
This has happened from the coining of terms for the steam locomotive ("hwo
che" - literally "fire wagon") to the telephone ("dyan hwa" - literally
"electric talk").

The question of why China, which indisputably had the most advanced
civilization for most of humanity's history, did not experience a native
scientific and industrial revolution, has obsessed western sinologists for
generations - since the beginning of the field, really. Joseph Needham's
magnum opus, "Science and Civilization in China" was spurred by this
question. It was in consideration of this question that I first encountered
the idea of the "high-level equilibrium trap". My own opinion - heavily
influenced by Needham and a few others - is that in Confucianism, China
developed an extraordinarily robust set of cultural dynamics and institutions
that were "meta-stable" across a very wide range of "disrupters" - from
foreign invasion and cultural influence to a wide variety of human and
non-human biological imperatives. This long history of stasis stands as the
most important counter-example to the kind of self-sustaining social and
technical progress that lies at the heart of modern Western culture.

       Greg Burch <>----<>
      Attorney ::: Vice President, Extropy Institute ::: Wilderness Guide -or-
                                           ICQ # 61112550
        "We never stop investigating. We are never satisfied that we know
        enough to get by. Every question we answer leads on to another
       question. This has become the greatest survival trick of our species."
                                          -- Desmond Morris

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