The Bright Dark Ages

Comparative and Connective Perspectives


Editors: Arun Bala and Prasenjit Duara
The European 'dark ages' in the millennium 500 to 1500 CE was a bright age of scientific achievements in China, India and the Middle East. The contributors to this volume address the implications of this seminal era of Asian science for comparative and connective science studies. Although such studies have generally adopted a binary perspective focusing on one or another of the Asian (Chinese, Indian, Islamic) civilizations, this study brings them together into a single volume within a wider Eurasian perspective. Moreover, by drawing together historical, philosophical, and sociological dimensions into one volume it promotes a richer understanding of how Eurasian connections and comparisons in the millennium preceding the modern era can illuminate the birth and growth of modern science.

Contributors are Arun Bala, Andrew Brennan, James Robert Brown, George Gheverghese Joseph, Henrik Lagerlund, Norva Y.S. Lo, Roddam Narasimha, Hyunhee Park, Franklin Thomas Perkins, Hans Pols, Kapil Raj, Sundar Sarukkai, Mohd. Hazim Shah, Geir Sigurðsson and Cecilia Wee.
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Biographical Note

Arun Bala (Ph.D. 1983) is a physicist and philosopher of science who has published numerous studies on globalising history and philosophy of The Scientific Revolution. He is author of The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science and edited Asia, Europe and the Emergence of Modern Science: Knowledge Crossing Boundaries.

Prasenjit Duara, Director of Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore and Emeritus Professor, University of Chicago. Among other books he is author of Culture, Power, and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942 (1988), which won the Fairbank Prize (American Historical Association) and Levenson Prize (Association for Asian Studies, USA).

Table of contents

List of Contributors

Arun Bala and Prasenjit Duara

1 The Descent of Theory
Andrew Brennan and Norva Y.S. Lo

2 Philosophical Implications of Connective Histories of Science
Sundar Sarukkai

3 Kuhn, Nisbett, Thought Experiments, and the Needham Question
James Robert Brown

4 Anthropocosmic Processes in the Anthropocene: Revisiting Quantum Mechanics vs. Chinese Cosmology Comparison
Geir Sigurðsson

5 Ibn al-Haytham and the Experimental Method
Cecilia Wee

6 Averroes and the Development of a Late Medieval Mechanical Philosophy
Henrik Lagerlund

7 Barbarous Algebra, Inferred Axioms: Indic Rhythms and Echoes in the Rise of Western Exact Science
Roddam Narasimha

8 The Transfer of Geographic Knowledge of Afro-Eurasia in the “Bright” Middle Ages: Cases of Late Medieval European Maps of the World
Hyunhee Park

9 Jamu: The Indigenous Medical Arts of the Indonesian Archipelago
Hans Pols

10 From Zero to Infinity: The Indian Legacy of the Bright Dark Ages
George Gheverghese Joseph

11 The Needham Question and Southeast Asia: Comparative and Connective Perspectives
Arun Bala

12 Rethinking the Needham Question: Why Should Islamic Civilization Give Rise to the Scientific Revolution?
Mohd. Hazim Shah

13 The Greatest Mistake: Teleology, Anthropomorphism, and the Rise of Science
Franklin Perkins

14 Rescuing Science from Civilisation: On Joseph Needham’s “Asiatic Mode of (Knowledge) Production”
Kapil Raj

Index of Names
Index of Subjects


All interested in global histories of science and their implications for philosophy and sociology of knowledge, including university scholars and teachers, and public intellectuals concerned with understanding science in multicultural contexts.

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