Freedom & Finance: Epistemic growth in Western Europe & China - 1000-1750
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This thesis tries to answer the question: ‘Which mechanisms can be identified within China and Western Europe that have a positive effect on the development of episteme and might even help to put it on a cumulative path of increasing returns, and what mechanisms may have thwarted this?’. By episteme is meant the total pool of available non-prescriptive, scientific knowledge. By researching and comparing the realities of the situations in both Western Europe and China to the newly devised ‘T-shaped model’, which identifies the positive mechanisms leading up to epistemic growth, an attempt is made to illustrate the differences in the paths of epistemic development Western Europe and China had. The two main differences seem to have been ‘Freedom & Finance’, or independence and economic incentives. Firstly, China’s Imperial structure of government allowed little independence. The rise of higher education possessing a certain degree of independence, including all the benefits that could come from it, was thereby thwarted. Secondly, there were little economic incentives in China to pursue epistemic growth. In fact, the Imperial system of examinations and the rewards it potentially offered formed a large incentive to concentrate on subjects of a more philosophical nature. Subjects like mathematics and physics were rarely studied.