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Accueil du site > Publications > Ouvrages parus > The Emperor’s New Mathematics : Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)

The Emperor’s New Mathematics : Western Learning and Imperial Authority During the Kangxi Reign (1662-1722)






Catherine Jami







This book explores the interaction between mathematics and imperial power in the Qing dynasty under the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662–1722). For almost two centuries, the Jesuits put the sciences in the service of evangelization, teaching and practising what came to be known as ‘Western learning’ among Chinese scholars ; many of the latter took an active interest in it. Kangxi was interested in aspects of Western learning from an early age and, not long after he took the throne, forced a return to the use of Western methods in official astronomy. In middle life, he studied astronomy, musical theory and mathematics, with Jesuits as his teachers. In his last years he sponsored a great compilation on these three disciplines, and set several of his sons to work on this project. But far from merely indulging in intellectual curiosity, Kangxi appropriated this Western learning as a vital part of his plan for establishing Manchu authority over the Chinese.

Jami sets out to explain how and why Kangxi made the sciences a tool for laying the foundations of empire. She shows how, as part of this process, mathematics was reconstructed as a branch of imperial learning, consolidating the emperor’s power over the most populous empire in the world.This book explores the interaction between mathematics and imperial power in the Qing dynasty under the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (r. 1662–1722). For almost two centuries, the Jesuits put the sciences in the service of evangelization, teaching and practising what came to be known as ‘Western learning’ among Chinese scholars ; many of the latter took an active interest in it. Kangxi was interested in aspects of Western learning from an early age and, not long after he took the throne, forced a return to the use of Western methods in official astronomy. In middle life, he studied astronomy, musical theory and mathematics, with Jesuits as his teachers. In his last years he sponsored a great compilation on these three disciplines, and set several of his sons to work on this project. But far from merely indulging in intellectual curiosity, Kangxi appropriated this Western learning as a vital part of his plan for establishing Manchu authority over the Chinese.


 :: Oxford University Press
 :: December 2011
 :: 452 pages
 :: 26 black and white half tones and 48 black and white line illustrations
 :: 978-0-19-960140-0





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