Is Science Western in Origin?

[] In my experience as a teacher, I have learned that the first task I face is to get my students to set high goals for themselves — to reach for the stars. As the Quran (53:39) says, you can only get what you strive for. If the students set themselves low goals, they will achieve very little. There are two major barriers that I must overcome, in order to achieve this goal.

The First Barrier: The system of education is DESIGNED to make student feel like they are incompetent, stupid, incapable of great achievements. This is because students are forces to memorize large amount of alien in-digestible matter which no one could understand, and without any concern for whether or not students understand the subject matter. This leads the students to believe that the “knowledge” that they are being taught is beyond their abilities to learn, and that real knowledge will always be out of their reach. The students do not realize that the fault lies with the subject matter and the methodology being used to teach, and not with their own internal minds and capacities. Many of my lectures are devoted to trying to inspire students to overcome this barrier and to set high goals for themselves; see for example: The Ways of the Eagles , Exploding the Myths which block our Minds , and  Unlock Your Infinite Potential 

The Second Barrier: Centuries of defeat of the East, Colonization by the West, and an Educational system designed by Macaulay to create admiration, awe, and respect for the West, and contempt and dis-respect for our own heritage.  This creates a Deep-Seated Inferiority Complex , which must be overcome if we are to aim at high goals. This inferiority complex is created by a biased Eurocentric history: for a collection of articles on this theme, see Islamic WorldView and Fighting Eurocentricism.” The main idea of Eurocentric history is that the whole world was in darkness until the sun of reason first arose in the West in the sixteenth century, ending their dark ages. Since this Enlightenment of Europe, the Europeans have made fantastic progress, leaving the rest of the world far behind. All good thing known to man have been invented in the past few centuries by Europeans. For a short essay which debunks this myth, see The Dark Side of the Enlightenment Project.

Among the greatest of the Western inventions is “SCIENCE” – Science is a European invention, and other races and cultures don’t really have the capacity or capability to create science or even to understand what it is.  Exploding this myth is very important to overcoming the second barrier. In a previous post, I have explained the Islamic Origins of Science, which shows how science originated in the Islamic Civilization, how it was transmitted to Europe, and how this borrowing was hidden and concealed to create the impression that Europeans have invented science. The book linked below: C.K. Raju: Is Science Western in Origin? provides a great deal of detailed information about the non-Western origins of science. In particular it shows how Copernicus was just a translator of Arabic works on astronomy, and not the revolutionary thinker that he is considered to be by the Europeans. This is because the real story of his borrowing from Islamic sources is concealed.

This book by CK Raju on “Is Science Western in Origin?” is very important in this context. It starts out by explaining that the process of colonization is, in the first place, the conquest of “knowledge — the colonizers define the world for us. Even though we have achieved political independence, mentally, we are still enslaved. Then the book provides historical evidence for how West appropriated knowledge originating in other cultures, claimed it for its own, by creating false histories, suppressing the true origins, and naming copiers as inventors. This book provides some of the narratives and evidence that we need to liberate ourselves from the chains of Eurocentric history.

This entry was posted in Education, Eurocentric History, Islamic Knowledge, science by Asad Zaman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Asad Zaman

BS Math MIT (1974), Ph.D. Econ Stanford (1978)] has taught at leading universities like Columbia, U. Penn., Johns Hopkins and Cal. Tech. Currently he is Vice Chancellor of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics. His textbook Statistical Foundations of Econometric Techniques (Academic Press, NY, 1996) is widely used in advanced graduate courses. His research on Islamic economics is widely cited, and has been highly influential in shaping the field. His publications in top ranked journals like Annals of Statistics, Journal of Econometrics, Econometric Theory, Journal of Labor Economics, etc. have more than a thousand citations as per Google Scholar.

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