Decolonising mathematics: discarding church myths and superstitions

Colonial education was church education, which changed our traditional math teaching by bringing in myths and superstitions, directly related to the post-Crusade church theology of reason. Most people fail to understand this, since colonial education ensured they know nothing about (a) mathematics or its philosophy, or (b) the church theology of reason, and (c) stuffed them full with prejudices (e.g. that math is universal).

But this understanding of colonial math makes  it easy to decolonise math. We need only to critically examine and junk church myths (such as Euclid) and related superstitions about axiomatic (or faith-based) math, and focus on the practical value of (normal) math. A key such superstition, brought in by colonial education, is that formal math is “superior” because deductive proofs are infallible.

The foolishness of this belief (irrespective of its church origins) has been argued out in detail in the article on Decolonising mathematics, published in AlterNation 25(2) pp. 12-43b. Download the whole paper by clicking on the link above or below.

Not only are deductive proofs highly fallible, they are more fallible than empirical/inductive proofs. The purported infallibility of deductive proofs is just another church superstition like the purported infallibility of the popes who erred in understanding even elementary arithmetic algorithms for addition and multiplication. Laughably, much Western  thought is founded on this superstition (because the church first hegemonised the Western mind).

The above article covers part of the keynote address I gave on “Decolonising math and science education” at the 11th Higher Education Conference, Univ. of Kwazulu Natal, Durban, in 2017. The video, presentation, and other details were given in an earlier post.

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