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Conference - Daniel Morgan : That the Sphere may Triumph : the History and Historiography of Cosmography after the Han

Mardi 13 janvier 2015, 14h-16h - Salle Elisabeth Allès (681), 190 av. de France

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That the Sphere may Triumph : the History and Historiography of Cosmography after the Han

Daniel Morgan (ERC Project SAW, CNRS – Université Paris Diderot)

Dans le cadre du séminaire « Histoire des sciences, des techniques et de la médecine en Asie orientale » (Caroline Bodolec, Catherine Jami, Frédéric Obringer), Daniel Morgan donnera une conférence intitulée : That the Sphere may Triumph : the History and Historiography of Cosmography after the Han

  • Date : Mardi 13 janvier 2015, 14h-16h
  • Lieu : Salle Elisabeth Allès (681), 190 av. de France

Content :

The history of cosmography in China, we are told, was settled almost as soon as it began : there were three “schools”—“expansive night” (xuan ye 宣夜), “awning heaven” (gai tian 蓋天), and “sphere heaven” (hun tian 渾天)—of which one had vanished, one remained, and one emerged victorious, respectively, by the second century CE ; what followed was no more than a history of refinements, and ill-conceived alternatives, to “sphere heaven” before the topic’s collapse into total irrelevance in the eighth century. This history, I would like to argue, is the product of two men—Shen Yue 沈約 (441-513) and Li Chunfeng 李淳風 (602-670)—whose standard history monographs are the source for almost everything that we know about the topic. We will begin by focusing in on the context and ambiguities of the sources that they cite, fleshing out the contradictory themes of triumph and loss woven throughout “sphere heaven” discourse and noting the conditions and competition against which contemporary experts felt embattled. Having muddied the picture, we will then turn to Shen and Li’s efforts to clean it up, looking at their respective framing of sources, the visions of “the history of science” informing those frames, and the extent of referencing, borrowing, and repurposing between monographs. The sphere may have triumphed in the end, but how, when, and why it triumphed depends on who is telling the story.


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