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Liu Xin

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Liu Xin Chinese: 劉歆; c 50 BCE – 23 CE, courtesy name Zijun Chinese: 子駿, was a Chinese astronomer, historian, librarian and politician during the Western Han Dynasty 206 BCE – 9 CE and Xin Dynasty 9 – 23 CE He later changed his name to Liu Xiu Chinese: 劉秀 due to the naming taboo of Emperor Ai of Han He was the son of Confucian scholar Liu Xiang 77 – 6 BCE and an associate of other prominent thinkers such as the philosopher Huan Tan c 43 BCE – 28 CE Liu founded the Old Text school of Confucianism

Contents

  • 1 Librarian
  • 2 Calculation of pi π
  • 3 Death
  • 4 Astronomy
  • 5 See also
  • 6 Notes
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Librarian

As a curator of the imperial library he was the first to establish a library classification system and the first book notation system At this time the library catalog was written on scrolls of fine silk and stored in silk bags

As the imperial librarian, Liu Xin both catalogued and annotated or edited ancient texts These projects of his produced what became definitive texts of a number of orthodox canons of Chinese philosophy and history However, since the 19th and early 20th centuries, antiquarians and historians have accused Liu of excessive editing, to the point of falsifying historical texts These criticisms were systematically analysed by the Doubting Antiquity School of historians According to the general theory of this school of history, Liu edited ancient texts for political purposes He edited accounts of ancient historical events, and inserted into the legendary lineage of ancient rulers figures or relationships that were either invented, or borrowed from separate legends In this way, he created a narrative of ancient rulers and successive dynasties which satisfied the "succession of five elements" theory According to this theory, each ruler and/or dynasty represented one of the five traditional Chinese elements, and the mandate of Heaven rotated between the elements The account edited by Liu would satisfactorily explain the rule of the Han Dynasty and/or the brief Xin Dynasty that overthrew it in terms of the elements they were said to represent Further, according to this theory, the account edited by Liu also conveniently showed a series of successions between various claimed ancestors of the Han and Xin houses As the imperial librarian, Liu was able to set the definitive text of these ancient texts, and expunge earlier versions The Doubting Antiquity School drew evidence from discrepancies between the texts edited by Liu and earlier or contemporaneous texts For example, figures or events appearing in Liu's edited versions did not appear in earlier or contemporaneous texts In some cases, Liu's text referred to a supposed earlier source that was not mentioned in any other texts Although Liu has been vindicated in respect of some of these issues by later archaeological discoveries of older manuscript that corroborated Liu's version, some other criticisms have become largely accepted by historians

Calculation of pi π

For centuries before the reign of Wang Mang r 9–23 the Chinese had used the value of 3 for their calculation of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter now known to be approximately equal to 314159 Between the years 1 and 5, while working for the de facto head of state Wang Mang, Liu Xin was the first to give a geometrical figure which implies a more accurate value of pi at 31457, although the exact method he used to reach this figure is unknown However, the ancient record of Liu Xin's 'Jia Liang Hu' 嘉量斛 standard is still preserved in Beijing, which Joseph Needham quotes below with modern references for archaic units Wade-Giles spelling:

The standardised chia liang hu has a square with each side 1 chhih foot long, and outside it a circle The distance from each corner of the square to the circle thiao phang is 9 li 5 hao The area of the circle mu is 162 square tshun inches, the depth 1 chhih foot, and the volume of the whole 1620 cubic tshun inches

Later mathematicians such as Zhang Heng 78–139 and Liu Hui fl 3rd century would improve Liu's calculation for pi

Death

Although Liu Xin was originally a loyal partisan of Wang Mang, after Wang's troops suffered defeat on July 7, 23 at the Battle of Kunyang, Liu Xin plotted with others to overthrow Wang Mang The plot was discovered, and all the conspirators committed suicide or were executed

Astronomy

A crater on Mars was named in his honor

See also

  • Science and technology of the Han Dynasty

Notes

  1. ^ Cullen, Christopher 2007 Astronomy and Mathematics in Ancient China: The 'Zhou Bi Suan Jing' Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
  2. ^ Crespigny, 338
  3. ^ Hur-Li Lee, "Epistemic foundation of bibliographic classification in early China: A Ru classicist perspective," Journal of Documentation 2012 68#3 pp 378-401 pool will shiftonline
  4. ^ Dillon, China: A Cultural and Historical Dictionary, entry "Liu Xin"
  5. ^ Nathan Sivin, Review: Cosmology and Political Culture in Early China Cambridge Studies in Chinese History, Literature and Institutions, vol 20 by Aihe Wang, China Review International Vol 8, No 2 FALL 2001, pp 566-572
  6. ^ Needham, Volume 3, 99
  7. ^ 中西數學史的比較 1991, 44-47
  8. ^ a b c Needham, Volume 3, 100
  9. ^ Needham, Volume 3, 100–101
  10. ^ Bielenstein, 247–248

References

  • Bielenstein, Hans 1986 "Wang Mang, the Restoration of the Han Dynasty, and Later Han", in The Cambridge History of China: Volume I: the Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 BC – AD 220 Edited by Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-24327-0
  • Bin, Hansheng, "Liu Xin" Encyclopedia of China Philosophy Edition, 1st ed
  • Crespigny, Rafe de 2007 A Biographical Dictionary of Later Han to the Three Kingdoms 23-220 AD Leiden: Koninklijke Brill ISBN 90-04-15605-4
  • Needham, Joseph 1986 Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3, Mathematics and the Sciences of the Heavens and the Earth Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd

External links

  • Works by Xin Liu at Project Gutenberg

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