近代眾多學者試圖從文化的角度去解釋「李約瑟難題」(The Needham Question)。鑒於非實証檢驗的觀點容易流於籠統，中國人民大學經濟學院博士生王慶提出了“儒家內省化阻礙科技發展”的假說：認為儒家文化在宋代的轉型（即「理學革命」）抑制了當代知識分子探索自然、從事科技相關研究的興趣，同時也影響到了精英階層的職業選擇，進而造成了往後明清兩朝的科技知識嚴重匱乏，最終導致科技發展趨於停滯。於本次量化歷史網上講座中，王慶將解說其研究如何由搜集、整理清代科技人員數據集，並利用《大清一統志》中記載的“列女”和“人物”數據構建出“內省化指數”來檢驗這一假說。他的研究結果顯示，內省化指數越高的州府，其科技人員產生的概率越低。這驗証過程不僅加深了人們對儒家文化和當代科技發展之間的關係，同時為如何營造一個適合科學技術發展、人力資本源源不斷的社會環境提供了歷史借鑒。
The Shadow of Reason: Neo-Confucianism and the Stagnation of Technological Development in Late Imperial China
Speaker: Qing Wang, PhD candidate, School of Economics, Renmin University of China
Scholars of sinology have for many years attempted to get satisfactory answers to the Needham Question from a cultural perspective. In the hope of coming up with more specific viewpoints from empirical investigations towards the question, Qing Wang, a doctoral student in economics at Renmin University of China, brings in his hypothesis about the long-term negative effects of neo-Confucianism on the development of science and technology in China. His central hypothesis is that the rise of neo-Confucianism, i.e., Li (Chinese: 理) which literally means “rational principles", in the Song Dynasty suppressed Song literati intellectually in their scientific explorations, and also at the time of career choice. This could have led to a severe depletion of scientific and technological knowledge and the subsequent stagnation of technological development in late imperial China.
In this Quantitative History Webinar, Qing Wang will explain the compilation of empirical datasets of scientific and technical personnel for the construction of “Introspection Index” by looking at the number of exemplary women Lienu (Chinese: 列女) and biographies Renwu (Chinese: 人物) listed in the Comprehensive Gazetteer of the Great Qing. His findings suggest that for those prefectures with higher Introspection Index, the lower the probability of the literati participating in scientific and technological explorations. This study not only deepens critical understanding of Confucianism and its relations with contemporary technological development realties, but also constitutes part of the studies in science development and human capital.