Four Points to Be Considered when Writing "A History of Science and Civilisation in Korea"
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
A research project entitled "A History of Science and Civilisation in Korea" is planning to publish an English-language monograph series that endeavours to learn from established scholarship on the history of science by benefiting from its accomplishments and overcoming some of its shortcomings. This paper argues that the following four points are important for Korean historians of science to consider: (1) overcoming 'presentism'— to avoid writing history from a contemporary standpoint and to
... stify present-day Korea, (2) adopting a cross-cultural approach—to avoid unjustified nationalistic and ethno-centric interpretations of historical data, (3) considering both elite traditions and folk traditions in Korea—to present a more balanced view on different traditions in Korea, and (4) adopting traditional Korean concepts and categories of knowledge, if necessary; that is, that when no Western concepts are suitable for reference but indigenous Korean concepts are, adopting traditional Korean concepts is preferable. For example, the adoption of p'ungsu (geomancy) as a category of the Korean body of scientific knowledge. In this paper these four points will be discussed with supporting evidence, and I believe that using these four points as guidelines will enhance the quality of new writings on the history of Korean science by overcoming some of the shortcomings of existing scholarship on the history of science, technology and medicine in Korea or elsewhere.