The Jesuit Knowledge System Introduced to China during the Ming and Qing Dynasties and Its Dissemination Strategies
Abstract: During the Ming and Qing periods, Jesuit missionaries played a crucial role in translating European thought, scientific knowledge, and technology into China, facilitating significant cross-cultural exchanges between China and Europe. This study integrates digital humanities methodologies with traditional humanities research to delve into the historical interactions between Jesuit missionaries and the intellectual landscape of Ming-Qing China. The investigation unfolds through two closely intertwined avenues: First, we process fifty texts from the book Texts of Western Learning during the Ming and Qing Dynasties using OCR technique, use ChatGPT CI for data cleaning, and employ n-gram tools to identify high-frequency key concepts. The data is then visualised using Excel graphs and the Gephi platform, aiming to construct a network graph that illustrates the Jesuit knowledge system during the Ming-Qing era. These concepts encompass not only religious terminology but also include translations of European scientific, technological, and philosophical notions, showcasing the multidimensionality of cross-cultural interactions during this period. Subsequently, we cross-reference the dataset of missionary texts with classical Chinese literature available on the Chinese Text Project (Ctext) platform, and conduct source-tracing analysis of citations to further explore the strategies employed by Jesuit missionaries when introducing foreign ideas and knowledge into an empire with a highly coherent philosophical system. Overall, this research employs digital humanities tools and methods to experimentally reconstruct the Jesuit knowledge system and interweavement between Jesuit treatises and classical Chinese literature. In this sense, computational methods offer possibilities for mutual validation and supplementation in our analysis, aiding in the deepening of our understanding of intercivilizational knowledge exchange during the period of Early Modern Globalization.
- HAN Qijin, University of Tuebingen
- HE Qiaoyin, Wuhan University
- XUE Ke, Tsinghua University
- YANG Di, Peking University