STS ONLINE EXERCISE: The Needham Question and Science s Revelations

Listen, reflect and leave your comment/opinion on the Neeeham question nBe concise and clear — not more than five (5) sentences. Leave a comment on this post. Required: Comment per group and voluntary individual comments. Do not forget to indiciate your group number and section and for individual comment your name student number and section.



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28 Responses to STS ONLINE EXERCISE: The Needham Question and Science s Revelations

  1. Enrique Martinez says:

    It’s truly fascinating to hear that a country like China, whose economy nowadays is seemingly second to none (even to the United States), was perceived to have had period when Science seemed to be non-existent/not prosper like its European neighbors. The proposed answers for the Needham question gives us an idea on why such could be probable. I think the most compelling would have to be the cultural factor, wherein China’s main focus was to uphold traditions rather than to elevate in their sciences. They were then one of the most prosperous countries in the world and the need for their sciences to flourish wouldnt necessarily be a top priority. This lock of “statis”
    where in development was sustainable could be a great factor on why science didnt fundamentally grow.

    Enrique Lorenzo L. Martinez

  2. Eric Loyd Hilario says:

    The question on why science developed more in Europe than in China can be answered by looking at the political, economic and cultural aspects of these regions. By the time progress in science was happening in China, both China and Europe both had feudal economic systems where we can say the culture was backwards or too conservative to innovations and discoveries. When industrial revolution happened in Europe, which means capitalism came and replace feudalism, and China remained feudal, the development in sciences hyped as production flourished more and the culture was more liberated and more open to scientific discoveries and innovations.

    Hilario, Eric Loyd P.

  3. Justine Faye Japlit says:

    Although China had their own earlier successes in their scientific endeavors, understanding why modern science developed more in the West rather than in Asian countries (specifically in China) can be better explained when it is contextualized. Differences in political and cultural climate would definitely be important factors in answering the lead of the West. According to Chris Cullen, “things happen much more quickly under the conditions of intent international competition” which could explain why politically, China was at a disadvantage in developing modern science since there was no pressing need for it to develop and be ahead. Culturally, it was also evident that the Chinese were more into preserving their traditions and that their uses of the technology were for practical reasons rather than development. Both these factors, coupled with their previous successes and their government’s unwillingness to accept innovations from Western countries lead to their complacency and therefore resulted to being overtaken by the West in terms of science and technology.

    Japlit, Justine Faye A.

  4. Prabhmehar Chhabra says:

    The Needham question is the core of one of Joseph Needham’s studies which seeks to learn why China’s technological advancement took a long time to develop despite the fact that it was originally more advanced than most European countries. We learned that in the early 15th century China had solved problems and made discoveries that revolutionized the world, but at the same time gave them the illusion that they knew all that there was to know. There are many reasons to why their development slowed down but for me the best one is Darwinism, which states that they did not develop or move forward due to lack of competition on the contrary European countries had to work twice as hard in order to survive since all of them were seeking power and expansion. This concept was also shown/stated in an episode of Boruto, where they claim that a person stops evolving when he has no competition. And that is the precise reason behind China’s slow development until recently of course, as it has once again not just caught up but surpassed many countries.

    Chhabra, Prabhmehar S.

  5. Prabhmehar Chhabra says:


    The Science revelation mainly talks about two disciplines, poetry and science. It shares the idea of how these two disciplines despite being sort of opposites, while Science is based on facts, poetry on the other hand requires imagination. It talks about how these two disciplines can if fact be used for each other, just like the book “Unweaving The Rainbow” which was written by a poet but the main character of the story is a scientific figure. He explains how science can be explained using metaphors used in poetry and how it can gather inspiration from poetry to look towards and see beyond what we know and in the same manner poetry can use science as its inspiration. This combination, this phenomena which seems very weird is in fact possible or rather is used whether knowingly or not by people of both disciplines.

  6. Roda Vasquez says:

    Even though China was leading in sciences in the early days, it was a question on why they were overtaken by Europe. The Joseph Needham proposed us answers that could answer this question and for me the best one is it is because of the centralization of power and ideas. In the early discussion in STS, I’ve learned the importance of “citizen scientists” and that science improves and expands through the help of not only knowledgeable people but also the common ones. The arrival of missionaries and system of imperial examinations wherein literate people who memorized the Classics by the book and not by theory is to blame. The Chinese dramas I’ve watched shows this: fresh ideas seldomly were not welcomed and they lost to the Europeans who had rare and new inventions.

    Vasquez, Roda Anne Marie L.

  7. Leandrew Guzman says:

    In the early days, it is evident that China is more advanced than the western countries in terms of civilization, technology, knowledge, because they developed and were exposed to different kind of things much earlier than the others. However after sometime, in terms of modern technology they were surpassed by the western countries particularly in Europe and there are mainly two factors that made it possible; internal and external issues in China. Internal because the cultural environment particularly the religious groups back then in China were very afraid to search and learn more about unknown things because they deemed it dangerous if they would explore more of those further. And external because they hit some kind of slump back then when no other countries near to them are close to their level of advancement at that certain period of time so they deemed it not very necessary to develop further; whereas in Europe back then, they became hungry for more knowledge and want to develop further. In general, for a person or group of people be able to develop further, it needs both innate desire to evolve and outside factors like influence of other groups, for there is really no danger in development whether it is science, technology or other things as long as it is with done with heart and it is put to good use and not to endanger others.

    Leandrew Miguel V. Guzman

  8. Gelo Villariba says:


    It may be possible that the inspirations for Chinese and Western innovations gave rise to the Needham question. Western science was and still is mostly driven by economical gain and making life more convenient. For the Chinese however, it was their cultural beliefs that brought about their technological innovations. Perhaps this is why it was surprising for the Europeans to see how well science and technology was flourishing in the East.

  9. Cyrille Joy A. Ordas says:

    It was quite intriguing to know why instead of China, Europe as been leading in the field of science & technology. Many factors were scrutinized and it somehow boils down to the culture and economic differences between China and European countries. China has been known for being a traditionalist country, making it quite resistant to sudden changes and innovations– not just in science but in whatever field there may be. On the other hand, Europe, aside from being wealthy, is a very unconventional country– causing innovations and discoveries to be widely accepted and hence improve the quality of science and technology.

    Cyrille Ordas

  10. Jude Paolo Bognot says:

    The Needham Question that basically asks or tackles why the development between China (which serves as a representative of Asia) and Europe (representative of the Western countries) differed throughout history can be answered simply by saying, there are more things than science and technology. In a certain nation or community, different facets of life govern the whole framework of society. Culture and tradition is one, so as Economics and Politics can also play their own cards and make a significant difference. These factors could be the possible answers on why there is a difference in development between China (Asian countries) and Europe (Western countries) although to pinpoint a specific factor is meaningless for one could not attribute all the things that took place to a certain factor only. Europe was more of a liberalized country, one that adopted the system of capitalism and had rapid developments throughout the ages while China has always been known for its high regard for culture and tradition, not to mention its difference in political stance with Western countries, and these things could be the major movers on the difference in development (may it be economically and scientifically) between the two parties involved.

    Jude Paolo Bognot

  11. Justin Yiu says:

    It is interesting to see how despite being technologically ahead of other countries for a period of time, Chinese science ended up stagnating due to a variety of reasons. Whereas European sciences continued to flourish and ended up advancing past Chinese science despite being at a disadvantage early on. This might be because of the fact that Europeans value science greatly and thought of it as a necessity for human civilization to flourish which cause scientific progress to advance at a great speed. On the other hand, the Chinese viewed humanities as being more important and ended up valuing science less which made their technological advances slower by comparison.

    Justin Yiu

  12. Joshua Emmanuel V. Fortes says:

    European scientific development took place when there were many states competing for supremacy and survival. Any engineering or scientific advance could give them the edge in conflict or trade. This is a form of Darwinism, as such competition drives rapid evolution. While Europe was in competitive turmoil China had no rivals and felt no need to reform. From the video you realize that China is more on traditions, cultures and beliefs for their techonoligical advancement while Europe have an open mind to explore more on innovations and new technology and improving it little by little.

    Joshua Emmanuel V. Fortes

  13. Jewel Regnim says:

    Scientific progress is interconnected with various social structures that allow or hinder an individual to pursue his/her extraordinary curiosity and independent thinking. Thus, the decline of innovative scientific research is related to the structures (e.g. government, culture) that can have the control of intellectual freedom and personal abilities which are necessary for the development of science and technology throughout history. And, in the case of China, both the cultural and political climate are a factor responsible for that decline—their stance to uphold their tradition and their unconcern for further advancement since the countries surrounding them lagged in technological developments (hence those are not a threat). The climate of China posed an indifference for science and technology thus Europe is able to surpass it.

    Jewel Mae C. Regnim

  14. Aries Garcia says:

    The Needham Question asks how China, which was the most technologically advanced in the world at the time, was overtaken by the West. The main reason would be in the difference in each of their environments. China had a rather unified civilization with little internal struggles thus there was no immediate need to improve their state-of-the-art. However, for Europe, the countries were constantly struggling with each other thus providing a need for improvements in technology to boost a side’s war potential and welfare. The competitive environment in Europe paved the way for better technologies that, at some point, beat China’s level of advancement.

    Aries Garcia

  15. patricia says:

    Science is very much linked to “fiction” or imagination, because for discoveries to be made, a thinker must wonder about things that may even be perceived as odd. Just like the “facts” that we know now, though these ideas might have been out of this world at the beginning, it is only years after do we have proof and that after all, what is mere speculation/observation now becomes “fact”. Now on the matter of the Needham question, China’s “absence” of a scientific revolution is heavily influenced by their cultural difference from the west. But at the same time, this is a very western view; it’s possible that China did have its own scientific revolution (e.g. porcelain, gunpowder, etc.), it’s just that it didn’t fit with the western perspective or align with western thoughts and methods. It’s possible that the things they wondered about, the questions they asked, are just different from what the Western thinkers asked; but it is undeniable that both had their own matters on science, with discoveries, tools, and ideas coming from both west and east.

    Cruz, Patricia Camille

  16. Leona Ureta says:

    The development of science is influenced by political, cultural, and economic factors present in society. The Needham question deals with the lack of impact of Chinese technological development on science. Unlike in Europe, China had no strong competition; intense competition actually fuels faster development. As compared to Europe, China had less curiosity, so in the long run, Europe had become more advance.

    Leona Ureta

  17. Alvin Carandang, Jr. says:

    It easily catches attention of curious people to understand the origin of some developments and why they did not happen in a different scenario. It is believed that differences in cultural and socio-economic aspects could have implications on these circumstances. This can be exemplified by why Europe developed modern technology, and not China given what was more likely to happen. For science, in general, I think it is common and okay to ask why. Asking whys leads to more questions that enables us to continuously and progressively build knowledge through time.

    Carandang, Alvin Jr. A.

  18. It is true that China’s inventions rival that of European inventions. However, the question is why did technology flourish in the West rather than in the East? For me, I think the answer lies on the natural resources available in each respective places. Europe is blessed with many natural resources especially oil, an essential resource for running machines, while China’s barren and mountainous feature do not offer a suitable place for technological innovation. Another thing is that the East focused more on their culture and religion, while the Europeans focused on technological innovation. For me, beliefs and culture greatly affect the technological advances of a certain country.

    Jerome Michael P. De Francia

  19. John Patrick Factor says:

    The argument that China thought that other people’s inventions and discoveries are just toys is highly feasible. I think that because the Chinese think highly of themselves, they lost vital information and resources that other countries have developed. Thus, they were left behind. Next, about poetics against the sciences, I think that science and poetry should go hand-in-hand. I think that with a lot more discovery, we begin to become in awe of all of these discoveries; I think that it doesn’t take away from the wonder of something when you find out about. Therefore with the help of science, poetry would become more relatable, and wonderful.

    John Patrick S. Factor

  20. jenina castro says:

    A lot of scientific innovations have been established by China, however it is surprising that China wasn’t able to maintain its position to surpass scientific innovations, thus arising the Needham question. I think there is a chance that China lived in complacency, they believed that their achievements is already enough thus it is not required to develop any further. They might thought that change is not required anymore, only a few adjustments from what they have will do. However in Europe, they keep on thinking creative ways to solve problems thus leading to a good scientific develop.

    Jenina Margareth Castro

  21. Justin Ugsimar says:

    The Needham Question is basically asking why China was not able to maintain its status as the leading country when it comes into innovation, and why it was overtaken by Europe in just a century. I think that both China and Europe has a fair share of available resources that make up our world. However, the big difference has always been the population between them. In China, their big population has always been present, in contrast to Europe’s population which was and is limited and reasonable. With this, I think that for a long period of time, China used manual labor force in producing its products for the people to have jobs, instead of investing their resources into research and development of technology. Another reason is because of competition. In Europe, there is a huge competition and this drives them to improve and develop. On the other hand, China had no rival then which is why they did not develop as rapid as Europe.

    Justin Benedict N. Ugsimar
    STS WFX (Group 18)

  22. For us to be able to answer the Needham question, we basically need to explore the reasons as to why Science didn’t rise in China. There are many and different factors to look upon and maybe a combination of some or all of them is the real reason behind. One of the obvious reasons why is based on how China valued their culture and beliefs and how it affected their scientific development, that lead to Europe going beyond to what China has attained.

    Group 8 STS THX

  23. Jan Moldez says:

    While China may have had a head start in terms of technological advancement centuries ago, it is evident at present that Europe eventually overtook China — this is the problem addressed by the Needham question. The plausible answer to the predicament may be related to differences in culture, government, geography, among others. The Chinese may have overlooked the need to innovate in the field of science due to their being conservative and traditional. Europe, on the other hand, was constantly driven to invest in scientific developments as influenced by the need to survive and adapt well to changes and challenges — in their conquests coupled with their hunger and pursuit of knowledge. Science, as a field and body knowledge, should always be progressive; there is no room for complacency.

    Ruel Jan Anthony A. Moldez

  24. Danielle Jessa Alipio Trinidad says:

    The Needham Question looks for the reason why the development of modern science is far more superior in Europe than anywhere else when China had an early technological brilliance and seemed a much better place for advancements. After listening to the discussion, the group had a unanimous insight (regarding the Needham question) that China may have lived in complacency mainly because of their culture, tradition, government and geographical location, which all differ significantly in the European landscape. Their stance to uphold their tradition and lack of concern for further advancement had caused them not to use the available information and resources efficiently, hindering them to promote, develop and apply technological advancements. Science is a continuous generation of knowledge through observations and experiments — something that Europe had given time and effort for in order to survive and solve their problems.

    Group 15

  25. Ynnah Retoma says:

    This is the first time I’d ever heard about the Needham question. It is knew knowledge that China was the most advanced when it comes to technology but it is not surprising as according to history, China has done a lot of great things. Their inventions were a lot of help to the whole world and as for the probable answers to the Needham question, I agree to the one that the reason why the European sciences advanced faster and greater is because that is their aim and there is the pressure within the countries to discover greatness. China was all about tradition and they are not afraid to take their time in discovering things unlike the Europeans who are somehow having a competition in progression.

    Retoma, Ynnah Patricia C.

  26. Dheza says:

    The Needham question accentuates the interplay among politics, economics, culture, and science towards technological advancements. As mentioned by Joseph Needham, “the essential problem (is) why modern science had not developed in Chinese civilization but only in Europe.” Despite being technologically ahead of Europe in the early years, China gradually lagged behind the western countries’ technological developments because of other factors such as cultural and political climate. The competitive mindset of the Europeans to explore more on technology and innovations overpowered the traditional inclinations of China’s technological development. Indeed, science and technology should always move in consonance with society’s tradition, politics, and economy.

    Dheza Peñaranda

  27. bead says:

    The Needham question emphasized the effect of culture and politics on scientific progress. What stood out to me the most was how the podcast framed China to be very isolated in its discoveries, and how there was no sense of competition or collective innovation. It seems that one such reason that scientific development did not flourish as much as it could have in China was due to its use for only practical and religious reasons rather than for knowledge itself, as compared to Europe’s liberal, more competitive and somewhat more “curious” mindset. It may also be due to the differences in standards between East and West, as I believe that China and Europe had different goals/mindsets and possibly even standards when it came to the concept of progress.

    Bea Dazo

  28. Edelito Jr E Mercene says:

    The Needham Question focuses on how China was left behind in a century-long competition of technological development. Technological advances in China in the 1500 have been not so competitive due to geographical and cultural restraints. Historical accounts of Chinese civilization reveals their patronage to conservatism or the act of preserving the culture and tradition. This philosophy hindered innovation in technology. Historically speaking, unlike European forces like the Great Britain, China hasn’t develop better technology in times of war, leading to their demise when Mongols and Japanese invaded the country.

    Edelito Jr E. Mercene
    2016 – 89156

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