【新三才网讯】伟大汉学家，李约瑟 Famous Sinologist, Joseph Needham
在今天的西方文明史翠中，我们为你介绍一位赫赫有名的剑桥大学的汉学家，李约瑟实验室的创始人和主任李约瑟。 In today’s Best of British, we will share with you a very famous Sinologist from Cambridge University, founder and director of the Needham Research Institute.
李约瑟出生于1900年12月9日，父亲是医生，母亲酷爱音乐。1924年起，他在剑桥大学的凯基学习生物化学。 HE WAS BORN on December 9, 1900, as the only son of a Harley Street physician and a musically talented mother. After attending Oundle School he went up to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge to study biochemistry.
此后在剑桥大学的凯基学院就一直是他发展学术生涯的所在地，他曾先后在那里担任过研究员，导师，直至院长。 Caius College was to remain his academic home for the rest of his life; he was successively a research fellow, tutor, fellow and finally (1966-76) Master.
在他的早期学术生活中，他成为了很有名的化学胚胎学家。在此期间，他的主要著作有化学胚胎学，生物学和形态发生。当他的第二本著作出版时，他的学术研究已经开始转向他的一生中最重要的领域。 For most of the first half of his life Needham was engaged in establishing himself as a chemical embryologist of distinction. The major works of this period are his Chemical Embryology (1931) and Biology and Morphogenesis (1942). But by the time this second book appeared he was already moving in the direction which was to lead him towards his life's work.
1937年，三个中国人来他的实验室一起工作。其中，鲁桂珍，一个南京药剂师的女儿，金陵女子大学毕业生，向李约瑟介绍中国悠久的科学发明和医药学，给身处“西方中心论”环境中的李约瑟带来很大的心灵震动，使他形成了“一个宝贵的信念，中国文明在科学技术史中曾起过从来没被认识到的巨大作用”。从此之后，李约瑟对中国科学发生极大兴趣，开始学习汉语，立志研究中国科学技术史。 In 1937, three Chinese came to work in his laboratory. Among them, LU Guizhen, daughter of a pharmacist in Nanjing and graduate of Jinling Women University, introduced traditional Chinese scientific invention and medicine to him, which shocked Needham who grew up in a culture where the West was regarded as the centre. He formed an idea that ‘one precious concept, Chinese culture, played a vital but not recognized role the history of science and technology. After that, Needham had great interest in Chinese science and started to learn Chinese and was determined to study Chinese history of science and technology.
受英国皇家学会之命，李约瑟从1942年～1946年在中国重庆任中英科学合作馆馆长，他为战时中国优秀科学家在西方科学杂志发表研究成果作出了很大的努力，并结识了竺可桢、傅斯年等中国科学家和学者，收集了大量的中国科学技术史文献。 From 1942 to 1946, Needham was the director of Sino-British Science Co-operation Office in Chongqing, China. He helped Chinese scientists to publish their research findings on scientific journals in the west during the war time. He came to know some Chinese scientists and scholars, such as Zhu Kezhen, FU Sinian, and collected huge volumes of literature of Chinese science and technology.
此外他又游历了还没有为日本占领的地方，包括敦煌和云南，又参观考察了中国各学术机构从而收集了大量文献和资料。这对他后来写《中国科学技术史》有极大帮助。 Besides that, he travelled to areas not occupied by Japanese, including Dunhuang and Yunan. He also visited institutes to collect huge amounts of literature and materials, which became very helpful for his work of Science and Civilization in China.
之后，他赴巴黎当上了联合国教科文组织自然科学部的第一位部长，而且得到中国学者王鈴的帮助而开始写《中国的科学与文明》。 After the War, he became the first minister of natural science department of UNESCO and he started to write Science and Civilization in China with the help of a Chinese scholar, Wang Ling.
1948年，李约瑟回基斯学院, 从1967年至1976年担任基斯学院院长。退休后，以他个人藏书为基础建立了东亚科学史图书馆。1987年，该馆发展为李约瑟研究所。 In 1948 he came back to Caius College and worked as master of the college between 1967 and 1976. After he retired, he founded the Oriental Studies library with the books he collected. In 1987, this library became Needham Research Institute.
回到剑桥大学后，他开始寻找那个他一直以来就想了解的问题的答案：为什么古代的中国取得了辉煌的成就，但是科技和工业革命却出现在欧洲。 He set out to answer a question that had been presenting itself to him ever more clearly for some time: why was it that despite the immense achievements of traditional China it had been in Europe and not in China that the scientific and industrial revolutions occurred?
李约瑟找到剑桥大学出版社要求出版一卷关于这方面的研究的书籍，出版社接受了。但是随着时间的推移，他的计划不断扩大，书籍扩展为7卷，第四卷被分成了三个部分，并且继续扩大。目前已经出版了23卷，还有5卷正待出版。 He approached Cambridge University Press with a proposal for a one-volume treatment of this subject, which they accepted, but as time went by, this plan swelled to seven volumes, the fourth of which had to be split into three parts – and so it went on. Twenty-three parts in all have been published so far, and five more are still on the way.
早期出版的卷宗都由李约瑟本人书写，后来他招募到了一组来自世界各国的志同道合者，由他们完成这部巨著。 MOST OF THE EARLIER volumes were written in their entirety by Needham himself, but as time went by he gathered an international team of collaborators, to whom the completion of the project is now entrusted.
随着项目的扩大，这部巨著的研究范围也在不断扩大，目前已经很明确，他最初提出的问题，很难用简单的答案回答。他当初的疑问已经扩大为在过去的四千年里研究科技活动与中国社会的关系问题。 As the project has broadened, so has the range of questions under investigation. It is now clear that no simple answer to Needham's original question will be possible. The quest has opened out into an investigation of the ways in which scientific and technical activity have been linked with the development of Chinese society over the last four millennia.
这部巨著的研究对象是在最完整的社会与智力背景下的中国科学，技术和医药学历史，同时伴以对东西方文明的深刻与赞同的理解。 This great work is planned as a history of science, technology and medicine in China, seen in its fullest social and intellectual context, and illuminated by a deep and sympathetic understanding of the cultures of both East and West.
通过他的巨著，李约瑟已经从根本上改变了学者和科学家看待中国文化，科学，医药的方法，并把其作为人类共有的文化遗产。 Through his writings he has radically changed the ways in which scholars and scientists evaluate both the history of Chinese culture, and the history of science medicine and technology understood as part of the common cultural heritage of the human race.
李约瑟无疑是上个世纪最伟大的西方汉学家，也可能是世界范围内最著名的英国历史学家。他被人称做是20世纪的伊拉兹马斯。 He was undoubtedly the greatest Western sinologist of last century, and is probably the British historian best-known on a world scale. He has rightly been called "the Erasmus of the twentieth century".