Religion, Technology, and the Great and Little Divergences

China and Europe Compared, c. 700-1800

Series:

In Religion, Technology, and the Great and Little Divergences Karel Davids offers a new perspective on technological change in China and Europe before the Industrial Revolution. This book makes an innovative contribution to current debates on the origins of the 'Great Divergence' between China and Europe and the ' Little Divergence' within Europe by analysing the relationship between the evolution of technical knowledge and religious contexts. It deals with the question to what extent disparities in the evolution of technical knowledge can be explained by differences in religious environment. It takes a comparative look at the relation between technology and religion in China and Europe between c.700 and 1800 from four angles: visions on the uses of nature, the formation of human capital , the circulation of technical knowledge and technical innovation.
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Biographical Note

Karel Davids, Ph.D. in History, University of Leiden, is Professor of Economic and Social History at the VU University Amsterdam. He has published extensively on the history of technology, economic and social history and maritime history of the Netherlands and on themes in global history, including The Rise and Decline of Dutch Technological Leadership. Technology, Economy, and Culture in the Netherlands, 1350-1800 (BRILL 2008).

Review Quote

"Karel Davids' concise book [...] performs important work in evaluating earlier positions and pointing out new directions for research."
- Jacob Eyferth, in: East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, Vol. 40 (2014), p. 94-99.

Table of contents

Preface

Introduction
The Great Divergence
Technological change in China and Europe
Religion, the economy and technology before 1800: different views
Weberian themes and the Little Divergence
A long-term comparative approach


1. Religion and Visions on the Uses of Nature in China and Europe
Visions of nature and the Great Divergence
Visions of nature and the Little Divergence
Conclusion


2. Religion and the Formation of Human Capital in China and Europe
Variations in human capital formation
Religious institutions and formal learning
Religious institutions and informal learning
Conclusion


3. Religion and the Circulation of Technical Knowledge in China and Europe
Religion and the circulation of technical knowledge before 1500
Religion and the circulation of technical knowledge after 1500
Conclusion


4. Religion and Technical Innovation in China and Europe
Religion, technical innovation and the Great Divergence
Religion, technical innovation and the Little Divergence
Conclusion


Conclusion
Bibliography
Index

Readership

All interested in global history, the history of technology, economic history, Chinese history and European history and anyone concerned with the work by Max Weber and Lynn White.