Fall 2019 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2019 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

The Japanese and Western Science

Masao Watanabe. Translated by Otto Theodor Benfey. Foreword by Edwin O. Reischauer

128 pages | 6 x 9 | 45 illus.
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512808094 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

The Japanese first encountered Western scientific technology around 1543, when the Portuguese drifted ashore and left them firearms. For the next few centuries Japan's policy of national isolation severely limited contact with the West. In the middle of the nineteenth century, when Commodore Perry introduced the Japanese to a few of the West's technological achievements, they realized how vulnerable their technological ignorance made them and felt great pressure to master Western science as quickly as possible.

In The Japanese and Western Science, Masao Watanabe succinctly examines the intersection of Western science and Japanese culture since Japan's opening to the West. Using case studies, including a Japanese scientist trained in the West and foreign teachers brought to Japan, he describes how the Japanese quickly and effectively accepted Western science and technology. Yet Japan, eager to catch up, sought for the fruits of science rather than its cultural and religious roots or the processes that allowed it to flourish. The author contends that this resulted in a lack of integration of the new science into Japanese culture with the resulting strains in people's lives, their education, in research, in international affairs, and in environmental pollution.

The central three chapters focus on Darwin, how his views were introduced, what aspects were of most interest—survival of the fittest rather than the common origins of animals and humans—and how one Japanese biologist sought to blend social Darwinism and Buddhist ideas. In one of the summarizing chapters, Watanabe contrasts the Western and Japanese conceptions of nature, and points out that the latter has tended to make the Japanese rely on mother nature to cope with the effects of human actions, no matter what these might be. The book is the product of painstaking research and penetrating insight by a Japanese scholar who has firsthand knowledge of Western science and culture.

Masao Watanabe is Professor of History of Science at International Christian University. Tokyo, and Professor Emeritus at the Univer­sity of Tokyo. He is the author of Science in the History of Modern Culture; Science Across the Pacific: American Science Teachers in Mejji, Japan; and Scientists and Christianity, from Galileo to the Present.

Otto Theodor Benfey is Editor for the National Foundation for the History of Chemistry and Adjunct Professor, Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the translator of Ernst Cassirer's Determinism and Indeterminism in Modern Physics and of Fred Aftalion's History of the International Chemical lndustry, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

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