Between the Kangxi Emperor (r.1662-1722) and Leibniz--Joachim Bouvet’s Study of the Yijing at the Imperial Court

Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 12:01 pm

April 11, 12-2 p.m. Lunch Workshop (A knowledge of classical Chinese will be necessary.)

Joachim Bouvet (1656-1730), one of the King’s Mathematicians, was sent to China by the French King Louis XIV. He arrived in Beijing in 1688 and soon became a mathematics tutor of the Kangxi emperor (1654-1722). During his stay in Beijing, together with other Jesuits, he taught the Emperor Elemens de Geometrie written by the French Jesuit Ignace Gaston Pardies (1636-1673) and also translated European books on anatomy into Manchu. In addition to propagating Christian doctrines, he also brought with him the task of studying Chinese traditional medicine. In addition, he wrote the Gujin jingtian jian (古今敬天鉴) in 1707, using Chinese ancient classics to confirm Christian doctrines. Because of the Emperor's interest in the Yijing(易经,Book of Changes), Bouvet was ordered to study it carefully. Many of his manuscripts on the Yijing, in Chinese and Latin, are still preserved in Europe. What was Bouvet's purpose? Why did the Emperor ask Bouvet to study the Yijing? Based on the official documents and his manuscripts found in Europe, I will analyse Bouvet’s contact with the German philosopher Leibniz and his study of the Yijing within its social context.

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This workshop is co-sponsored by Professor Benjamin Elman's Mellon Achievement Grant and the Program of History of Science at Princeton University.

243 Frist (Women's Center) Seminar Room
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