Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Joseph W. Dauben


imperial service examinations, printing press, history


Joseph Needham (1900–1995) formulated several important queries about science and technology in China. Known as Needham’s “Grand Question” or “Puzzle,” he asked why modern science developed in Europe rather than in China, despite China’s advanced technology, and examined the inhibiting factors in Chinese civilization that prevented the rise of modern science by the seventeenth century. The question itself has prompted a variety of answers, all of which are partial. In this thesis, some of the complex social, cultural, political and economic factors that contributed to the Scientific Revolution in Europe will be discussed, as well as some of the key historical factors that prevented the development of modern science in China. In particular, I will focus on the imperial examinations in China and will argue that these examinations aided in hindering the development of modern science in China.



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