It is doubtful whether Western science and technology would have been possible unless we had tried to understand nature in terms of mechanical models. According to Joseph Needham, the Chinese—despite all their sophisitication—made little progress in science because it never occurred to them to think of nature as mechanism, as “composed” of separable parts and “obeying” logical laws. Their view of the universe was organic. It was not a game of billiards in which the balls knocked each other around in a cause-and-effect series. What were causes and effects to us were to them “correlatives”—events that arose mutually, like back and front. The “parts” of their universe were not separable, but as fully interwoven as the act of selling with the act of buying.

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A quote saved on Dec. 30, 2015.


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