A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.
A Global Enlightenment: Western Progress and Chinese Science
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for East Asian Studies presents a talk on how Chinese ideas have gone previously unnoticed in European debates.
Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the idea of progress – once imagined as a universal timeline stringing all societies together – was strategically redeployed to single out "The West" from the rest. What caused this fundamental transformation in Europeans' understanding of their place in the world? In this talk, I outline an answer by revealing the hitherto unknown presence of Chinese ideas in European debates. Through engagement with new books, essays, and translations sent from Beijing by Catholic missionaries, French thinkers rethought the history and philosophy of their own natural sciences. By reconstructing this truly cross-cultural conversation, I argue that non-Western science informed a signature contribution of the European Enlightenment: the idea of progress.
Alexander Statman, A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, is a historian of science and intellectual historian. His research interests include intercultural conversation and exchange, the Enlightenment's challenges and legacies, environmental thought, and the historiography of science. He received his B.A. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from Stanford University.
Tensions evident in the recent European Union-China virtual summit reflect the increasing skepticism in Europe toward China and the worries over Ukraine and economic ties as well as human rights and environmental issues.