Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Bodies Translated: The Synthesis of Islamic and Chinese Physiological Theories in 17th and 18th-Century China

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Truman, Mezzanine Level

Between the mid-17th and early-18th centuries, a network of savants in China's cultural hubs strove to reconcile and merge two, geographically and linguistically distant, intellectual discourses—the intellectual discourse that prevailed in centers of scholarship around the Islamicate world and one that dominated the late imperial Chinese literati culture.



To that end, members of that network undertook extensive searches for Arabic and Persian manuscripts on theology, law, history and natural philosophy, forgotten in libraries, or newly brought to China with foreign visitors to China. By translating selections of these Arabic and Persian texts into Chinese, devising methods of textual scholarship, as well as negotiating the fundamental theories of natural philosophy, these Chinese savants created a new intellectual space in China, bridging between Occidental Islamic theories of nature and their counterparts in the China. 



Focusing on the case of physiology, this talk will explore the hitherto little-discussed channel of West-East transmission of medical knowledge via Arabic and Persian texts, and its domestic circulation in late imperial China through translation and print. It will introduce the ways translation and textual manipulations that members of that Sino-Islamic network employed in order to synthesize and reconcile western and local theories of physiology. In addition, it will discuss the scope and quality of the intellectual space shared by China and the Islamicate world as seen in the works of this network of Chinese savants.

Dror Weil

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany

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2 - Bodies Translated: The Synthesis of Islamic and Chinese Physiological Theories in 17th and 18th-Century China

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Send Email for Bodies Translated: The Synthesis of Islamic and Chinese Physiological Theories in 17th and 18th-Century China