On the History of Chinese Chemistry in Ancient Times

We all know that ancient China has always had high scientific achievements, and outstanding scientists have had it for generations, but the phenomenon of scattered development is completely different from the development of modern scientific systems. The most obvious is inheritance. The loss of ancient science and technology is very common. This is simply unthinkable to modern people who science and technology represent wealth. In fact, this has a close relationship with the ancient Chinese s understanding of material. In the series of talks about the achievements and development of ancient China from the perspective of chemistry, we start with the understanding of matter.

古 The ancient Chinese understanding of matter is basically the Five Elements Doctrine, which holds that the five elements of gold, wood, water, fire, and earth constitute everything in the universe. When exactly did this recognition begin? I am afraid that this issue has no history to test, because in the long history, it seems to have been accompanied by the evolution of Chinese culture, which can be said to be one of the cornerstones of Chinese culture. In Shang Shuyi The Five Elements in Hong Fan refers to gold, wood, water, fire, and soil. Shangshu, which is the Book of Confucius in the six classics commented by Confucius, is a collection of ancient Chinese political documents. The earliest record is the Huangdi era, which is about 5,000 years ago, that is to say, long before Chinese characters appeared in China, There is already an understanding of the Five Elements. Others, such as the Mandarin of the Zhou Dynasty, have records that … the soil is mixed with gold, w ood, water and fire, and everything. Therefore, the Five Elements theory is the foundation of ancient Chinese science, just as modern science s understanding of cosmic matter is based on the atom, molecule theory.

But there is a so-called yin and yang theory in ancient China that has a more microscopic understanding of matter than the five elements. Confucius in The Book of Changes Ci Chuan Chuan said: One Yin and One Yang means Tao , Rigid and Flexible Phases Result in Changes ; Lao Tzu s Tao Da Jing: Tao Sheng One, One Life Two, Two Life Three, Three Life Everything, Negative Yin And Baoyang. This seems to have entered the category of modern high-energy physics, not just talking about microscopic basic particles, or even the process of material formation. Therefore, due to the characteristics of yin and yang, the five elements also have their own characteristics. Hong Fan also mentions: The water is moist, the fire is hot, the wood is curved, the gold is from leather, and the soil is stubborn. The soil is salty, the inflammation is bitter, and the mellow is acid. Because of their own characteristics, the five elements also have the phenomenon of health and grammar under the intera ction of each other: Water is the fire, fire is the gold, gold is the wood, wood is the soil, water is the soil This is a restrictive effect; And wood generates fire, fire generates soil, soil generates gold , gold generates water, and aquatic wood constitutes another promoting cycle, which is the well-known theory of symbiosis. It is under this theoretical framework that ancient China developed unique sciences such as astronomy, geography, calendar, physics, medicine, pharmacy, and chemistry, and even influenced Chinese music, architecture, art, and culture.

From a modern scientific point of view, this theory has abstract and non-quantifiable factors that are difficult to understand, so even if there are many empirical achievements, such as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, many people still do not recognize this as science. What is the crux of it? I m afraid this problem stumped many modern scholars! In fact, we learn from In the forty chapters on the discussion of material formation, we can see the clue: Everything in the world is born of existence , and life is born of nothing. Chapter Forty The Tao has one life, one life two, two life three, and three life. Everything bears Yin and embraces the Yang, and the spirit thinks of harmony. Forty-two chapters From the Daosheng one, two, three, and being born of nothing combined, we can understand that the formation of matter is one level after another, and matter is composed of microscopic matter into particles The microscopic matter is composed of particles that are more microscopic, such as layer after layer; then our tangible matter is actually composed of intangible matter, which means that a higher level of microscopic matter is a lower level Intangible, there is also also a relationship between invisible and tangible between the higher and lower layers. Then three things in all life, all things are negative and yin and embrace the yang, and qi thinks that harmony means what we can understand by science now: to the level seen by human eyes, all matter on the earth is composed of three microscopic matter, and Everything that is formed has the characteristics of covering the yin and holding the yang, isn t that about atomic theory ? Various atoms of the periodic table composed of protons, neutrons, and electrons. The characteristics of the atoms are not positive. The negative electrons (yin) surround the positively charged nucleus (yang). Regardless of how the ancient Chinese observed the structure of the atom, it is tangible to understand. The n ext sentence, Qiqi thought that harmony is probably not explainable to modern people in a few words, here shows the ancient Chinese science s understanding of matter is amazing In modern science. Impulsive thought of harmony is not a tangible phenomenon in this material space. It is barely used in vernacular meaning: after the composition of matter (yin and yang effect), there will be a uniform energy flow in another space. There are intangible forms of energy. Take the most obvious example. For example , if you look at the human body with modern anatomy, you can see muscles, blood vessels, bones and other tissues when you dissect it. This appears in the meridians and acupuncture points referred to in Chinese medicine, and is invisible in our physical space . Therefore, there is qigong activity in ancient Chinese rickets fitness. Where is Qi? What is anger? For another example, recently, Japanese scholars studied water crystallization experiments. The crystallization behavior of prai sed water and abusive water is very different. In fact, the phenomenon of impulse to think of harmony is unexpectedly shown. Ideas do not seem to have any effect on the substance itself. In fact, it is often referred to in China as moving air, which means that the intangible energy body is affected. From the perspective of energy conservation, it is very scientific. In this way, we should be able to make a simple comparison between the ancient Chinese understanding of matter and the differences between modern science.

So the Chinese people s understanding of matter includes both spiritual (qi) and material levels. Of course, they believe that everything has spirit , like water in the crystallization experiment, is like a living body, which can distinguish emotions. All materials are just like humans. Once formed, they impulse and become spirits. Therefore, mathematics was not an important tool in ancient Chinese science. The main reason is that mathematics has its clever and expressive form for the quantification of tangible matter, and it is useless for intangible qi. Just like modern science wants to use mathematical models to simulate human emotion changes, it is very difficult. Therefore, observing the changes of the tangible and intangible universe in a yin-yang and five-element way has become a characteristic of ancient Chinese science.

With the concept of understanding the ancient Chinese material, it is interesting to know the development of ancient Chinese science again, and a newer understanding may emerge.

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