and what we can do about it today

C. K. Raju

*Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla 171
005*

Mathematics
is NOT universal. Indian ganita was practical, hence accepted facts,
and empirical proofs, as does science. But Western mathematics was
religiously oriented, since Pythagoreans and Plato who *explicitly*
related math to *mathesis*
and the soul, and declared this religious math to be “superior”
to practically-oriented math.

The
church transformed this religious understanding of math in two ways.
During the Crusades, it (a) accepted “reason”, as part of
Christian theology (mimicking Islamic rational theology). Its aim was
to use “universal”

reason to convert Muslims (who
accepted reason, or aql, but rejected the Bible as corrupted). It
reinterpreted a (Neoplatonic) math text to to declare that math was
solely about the immediate church requirement of using “universal”
reason for persuasive proofs (to convert Muslims), and used this text
(“Euclid”) to teach reasoning to its priests (e.g. in
Cambridge). Further, the church (b) rejected facts as “inferior”
to un-testable (metaphysical) axioms, to save its numerous dogmas
which were contrary to facts. Few understand the confusing church
doublespeak about “reason” (meaning “reason minus
facts”), commonly confounded with “reason” in the
usual sense of “reason plus facts”. In fact, ganita
(normal math, reason plus facts) differs from Western math (formal
math, reason minus facts).

The
church allied with the colonial state to conquer colonised minds
through colonial education: its key propaganda was about Western
“superiority” and non-Western “inferiority”.
Hence, colonial education propagated the myth of “Euclid”
and his axiomatic proofs declared “superior” and
infallible. However, there is nil evidence for Euclid. There is ample
counter-evidence that “Euclid’s” *Elements*
was a book by another author from another time written for a
different reason (it was a Neoplatonic book on math as mathesis). And
the fact is that the *Elements*
does not contain a single properly axiomatic proof: contrary to what
ALL Western scholars superstitiously believed for centuries, under
church tutelage. When the absence of axiomatic proofs in “Euclid”
was finally admitted, B. Russell and D. Hilbert rewrote the *Elements*
to fit the facts to church myth and superstitions, and invented
formal math. Today, our NCERT still teaches Western formal math to
children on (1) the myth of Euclid, and (2) the church superstition
that axiomatic (“deductive”) proofs are “superior”
to proofs based on facts. Few understand that this metaphysics makes
math difficult *without*
adding to its practical value: they just ignorantly imitate what they
believe to be “superior”.

The
correct response is (1) to keep demanding *primary
evidence* for these
church myths, and (2) to PUBLICLY debate on (or demand elimination
of) the church superstitions packaged with (colonial) math teaching
today, and (3) to teach math strictly for its practical value,
setting aside all bogus claims of superiority since Plato. Geometry
teaching in schools can be changed back to normal math; this is
practically advantageous, and easily possible. A textbook (*Rajju
Ganita*) is ready,
even at the school level, as the next talk will explain. (The
calculus too can be taught without the metaphysics of limits, and
that benefits science, but that is another story.)

**References
**

C.
K. Raju, *Euclid and
Jesus: how and why the church changed mathematics and Christianity
across two religious wars*,
Multiversity, Penang, 2012.

C.
K. Raju, “Eternity and Infinity: the Western misunderstanding
of Indian mathematics and its consequences for science today”,
*American
Philosophical Association, Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American
Philosophies*, **14**(2)
(2015) pp. 27-33.
__http://ckraju.net/papers/Eternity-and-infinity-Pages-from-APA.pdf__.

C.
K. Raju, “Decolonising mathematics” (why deduction is
MORE fallible than induction), *Alter*__Nation
25(2)__ pp.
12-43b. __https://doi.org/10.29086/2519-5476/2018/v25n2a2__.
Based on a keynote address at the 11^{th}
Higher Education Conference, University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban,
2017, video at __https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpS6MfzJr2E__.

Abstract for first of #Srijan Talks, Delhi, 23 Nov 2019.