Western Mathematics: The Secret Weapon Of Cultural Imperialism

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Mathematics has traditionally been seen as a culture neutral subject that is universal to all societies around the world. “Two twos are four” (Bishop 51), even if a certain society has a different word or base, it is fundamentally the same number. However, beyond elementary mathematics, such as counting, measuring and designing, Alan J. Bishop argues in his article, “Western Mathematics: The Secret Weapon of Cultural Imperialism,” that mathematics is a construct of society. The units of measurement that one decides to use, or even specific paradigms which are related to the study of mathematics, are social constructs. Bishop encourages the scientific community to acknowledge that western mathematics is not culture neutral so that academic discussion can arise against the inappropriately static nature of mathematics. Bishop accomplishes this goal by presenting his arguments in a logical fashion, often using historical facts and examples to further his case. It is now a common belief that the success of Europeans during colonial times was not racial superiority, but mathematical, and Bishop accredits this to the field of mathematics. The spread of western culture was due to the advances the West had in technology (58). The writing…show more content…
The writing draws on the past then delves deeper so that one can better understand the true implications of mathematics. Although it is common knowledge that a fair majority of civilizations have had some form of mathematics, it is a common misconception that majority of these were similar to western mathematics. Western mathematics is seen as rational and objective, while other cultures sometimes had strong religious values associated with mathematics. After providing historical evidence, Bishop continues his argument by declaring that the scientific community must change this view and encourage mathematics
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