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THE INFLUENCE OF INDIAN MATHEMATICS - Kindle eBook by Roderick Matthews

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Roderick Matthews


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© 2007 All Rights Reserved


There is now a large body of western scholarship with a balanced and nuanced assessment of the role of Hindu mathematics in a world context. Unfortunately this view contrasts strongly with a school of Indian commentary on the same subject, which is still, even today, prepared to make sweeping and definitive claims about the Indian authorship of mathematical ideas while neglecting to support any of them in convincing detail. These claims, although well represented on the Internet, are not purely amateur but appear in the printed work of writers with degrees and obvious higher learning.

This ‘School of Indian Primacy’ has two consistent characteristics. The first is a denial of the notion of independent discovery, a phenomenon so widespread and well attested that the refusal to accept it can only be explained by doctrinaire thinking. The discovery of Calculus independently by Newton and Leibnitz in seventeenth century Europe and the coincidental discovery of something very similar in Kerala three centuries earlier is either trumpeted as a clear case of Indian superiority, or is put down as a transmission by some obscure route, now forgotten, that ‘must’ exist.

The utter improbability of an east-west transmission in this case - there is no evidence that the work was ever known outside Kerala - and the certainty of the independence of Newton and Leibnitz should lead to the conclusion that great minds think alike, especially when applied to the same problem. But this obvious lesson is still obstinately resisted in certain quarters

This Ebook tries to put these issues in their proper perspective.


Roderick Matthews, Historian, Obtained a First from Balliol College, Oxford in Modern History. Studied Medieval History under Maurice Keen. Studied Tudor and Stuart History under Christopher Hill, Master of Balliol College. Studied European History under Colin Lucas, later Master of Balliol College and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University. Studied Imperial History under Professor Paul Longford, Rector of Lincoln College.


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