Is Science Western in Origin?

Image: Pamphlet

From the backpage

On stock Western history, science originated among the Greeks, and then developed in post-renaissance Europe. This story was fabricated in three phases.

First, during the Crusades, scientific knowledge from across the world, in captured Arabic books, was given a theologically-correct origin by claiming it was all transmitted from the Greeks. The key cases of Euclid (geometry) and Claudius Ptolemy (astronomy)— both concocted figures — are used to illustrate this process.

Second, during the Inquisition, world scientific knowledge was again assigned a theologically-correct origin by claiming it was not transmitted from others, but was “independently rediscovered” by Europeans. The cases of Copernicus and Newton (calculus) illustrate this process of “revolution by rediscovery”.

Third, the appropriated knowledge was reinterpreted and aligned to post-Crusade theology. Colonial and racist historians exploited this, arguing that the (theologically) “correct” version of scientific knowledge (geometry, calculus, etc.) existed only in Europe.

These processes of appropriation continue to this day.

Quick Info


Published by
: Multiversity and Citizen's International, Penang, Malaysia, 2009

ISBN: 978-983-3046-07-2

Series editor: Vinay Lal, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Now available on Kindle.
(Don't have a Kindle? Read it on free Kindle for PC.)

Hindi version published by Daanish Books, Delhi

Image: Dr Kalam and C. K. Raju

Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, and C. K. Raju

A preview of the book.

Press release

 Reviews:

Asghar Ali Engineer (Right Livelihood Award 2004):

“an excellent monograph.. . by Prof. C K. Raju, ...though small in length, [it] is much larger in significance. ...It is highly learned in its contents...”

Islam and Modern Age, Dec 2009

Read more excerpts from Dr Asghar Ali Engineer's article.

Conversation with Shivanand Kanavi, in Ghadar Jari Hai(Vol. III, 3&4, 2009).

 

What is the book about?

 

How the history of science was fabricated during Crusades and Inquisition (and before racism and colonialism).

"In his densely argued essay, Raju makes mincemeat of the received view of the Greek origins of science...Having established that the story of the transmission of astronomy and geometry from the Greeks...cannot be given any credence, Raju argues that, in the period of the Inquisition, a concerted attempt was made to suggest that Europeans independently rediscovered the scientific knowledge. Raju sees in the much-celebrated account of the supposed Copernican revolution, which takes us from a geocentric view of the universe to a heliocentric view, evidence only of a sustained and pernicious hellenocentrism. Though Copernicus used Islamic sources to reach his conclusions, he failed to acknowledge them....

"Raju’s intent here is also to question the supposition that knowledge in the West has a secular cast. ‘Note how theology has crept in’, he avers: ‘we are asked to believe that science is about deducing the consequences of some “laws” instituted by a god who created the cosmos, as has been made out in the West since Newton'."

Vinay Lal