History of Mathematics and Science in Vietnam: A Preliminary Study

History of Mathematics and Science in Vietnam: A Preliminary Study

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by the History & Philosophy of Science Section


Speaker: Alexei Volkov, Tsinghua University, Taiwan, and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

The history of traditional science in pre-modern Vietnam has never been systematically explored by the French colonial historians and by their modern Vietnamese counterparts. Although it has been generally assumed that Vietnamese mathematics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, geomancy, and other disciplines were imported from China, the modalities of this process and its output have never been discussed in detail.

The lecture will zoom in on the following topics: (1) the general presentation of the extant books on sciences and "pseudo-sciences" preserved in Hanoi and in Paris; (2) the first results of the exploration of the treatises on traditional Vietnamese mathematics; (3) the history of construction of a "scientific hagiography" of the "mathematical genius" Luong The Vinh (1441-1496?); (4) the accounts of Jesuit missionaries who visited Vietnam in the 17th century and described the astronomical and astrological activities at the courts of the Vietnamese rulers; (5) the collision between the systems of traditional and colonial science education in the late 19th century.

The History and Philosophy of Science Section of the New York Academy of Sciences holds multiple meetings covering a wide range of topics within the field. The Section's advisory committee works to bring together distinguished lecturers and scholars to promote discussion of their most recent research, or topics of critical current interest on issues related to the history and philosophy of science, technology, medicine, and relevant social and ethical questions. Topics include the history of related disciplines in all historical periods from antiquity to the present, studied through diverse methodologies. The goal of the Section is to keep the Academy, its members, and those who attend its meetings well-informed about current work and the major figures— nationally and internationally—who are making the most significant contributions to the history and philosophy of science.