We are pleased to announce that Jeffrey Kotyk’s article “The Chinese Buddhist Approach to Science: the Case of Astronomy and Calendars” (Journal of Dharma Studies, October 2020) is featured in Springer’s 2020 Research Highlights for Philosophy and Religion. This article is free to access until March 31, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42240-020-00082-y.
Article abstract: This study reviews the Chinese Buddhist approach to astronomy and calendars during the first millennium CE. I demonstrate that although Indian astronomical and calendrical concepts were often translated into Chinese Buddhist literature, few of these conventions were ever actually implemented in China. I also demonstrate that the Chinese sangha relied upon secular and/or Indian astronomical materials in translation. I highlight the eighth-century monk Yixing as a unique example of a Chinese Buddhist monk who also acted as a court astronomer, but I argue that despite his identity as a monk, his career as an astronomer was actually separate from his activities within Buddhism. Finally, with additional reference to Amoghavajra, I argue that Buddhism as an institution in China did not facilitate developments in astronomy or calendrical science, but rather it took a deferential attitude toward these fields.
About the author: Jeffrey Kotyk (Leiden University PhD, 2017) is presently the Sheng Yen Education Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Chinese Buddhism at the University of British Columbia. Earlier he was the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies at McMaster University. He presently researches Buddhism in state and secular sources from medieval China in addition to his other work detailing the relationship between Buddhism and astrology in premodern East Asia. He earlier spent time as a visiting researcher at Friedrich-Alexander University in Erlangen, Germany, where he documented the introduction and development of foreign astrology in China. He has published in journals including T’oung Pao and Asia Major.