Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Maths and Civil Society


 As studytiger.com writes:

Сivil society is a concept located strategically at the cross-section of important strands of intellectual developments in the social sciences. How can we say that mathematics is related to social sciences. People believe, Mathematics is a divine discipline. Some love Mathematics, while some fear it; some study Mathematics, while some worship it. Ancient Indian Mathematicians like Aryabatta or Bhaskara worshipped Mathematics and lived for it. It was not for any material benefit, but was out of their devotion. All over the world, there were and there are people who loved Mathematics as a divine subject. Hence it is a very interesting topic of research, that how Mathematics affects the Civil Society. We know that Mathematics plays a very important role in the Modern World. We are living in a scientific era of rapid development. Things that were new or unheard of a few years ago are commonly seen today. Some of the new technical advancements may have little effect upon our personal life, but others may play a most important part in our existence. If we are to play a position on the team of our society, or even to watch intelligently from the sideline, we must have an understanding and appreciation of Mathematics. The advancement in the areas of Science and Technology are rapid and rather amazing. All these astounding advancements are indebted to Mathematics to a great extent. Everyone who is a beneficiary of these scientific and technological facilities may have to know a little of Mathematics for its fruitful and smooth utilization. 
Hence, Mathematics cannot be considered as a classroom discipline only. Every man may need it at any time). Not only an Academician; not only a Scientist; not only an Engineer; but, a shopkeeper needs it; a grocer needs it; a housewife needs it; a sportsman needs it; an employee needs it; and who does not? Just like a language, we need Mathematics to communicate! So the Mathematics that we teach in the classroom should cater the need of every individual. There is no need of teaching Higher Algebra or Topology to a grocer. A housewife does not need the statements or proofs of real Analysis. Why should everybody learn Mathematics? What is the significance of Mathematics in the Civil Society? What shall be the advantage of devoting so much effort, time and money of the Society to learn Mathematics? How does it make any contribution in the overall development of the members of the Civil Society? These are some of the questions that may come to our mind when we speak of the relation between Mathematics and Civil Society. These qualms in our mind will show us the way to explore the values of Mathematics Historians of Mathematics have the opinion that much of the impulse behind Mathematics has been economics. In the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century, for obvious political reasons, attempts were made to show that all vital Mathematics, particularly in application, is of economic origin. But, they admit that an aware of Mathematics, is essential for civilized living Today economic tyranny has no more powerful friend than the calculating prodigy. Without knowledge of Mathematics, the grammar of size and order, we cannot plan the rational society in which there will be leisure for all and poverty for none. We should try to realize the reasons, which repel many people from studying this subject. As Mathematics has been taught and expounded in schools no effort is made to show its social history, its significance in our social lives and its immense dependence of civilized mankind upon it. We were neither told how the knowledge of Mathematics has been used in history to assist in the liberation of mankind from superstition nor shown how it may be used to defend the liberties of the people. Consider the sum: 0.1  0.01  0.001 .…. However long we make the sum, it never grows bigger than 1/9. We know that this is nothing but about the convergence of an infinite series to a limiting value. The same fact can also be interpreted as if we go on piling up smaller and smaller quantities as long as we can, we may get a pile of which the size is not made measurably larger by adding any more. This provides a great social truth: Fruitful intellectual activity of the cleverest people draws its strength from the common knowledge which all of us share. Beyond a certain point, clever people can never transcend the limitations of the social culture they inherit. Our studies in Mathematics show us that whenever the culture of a people loses contact with the common life of mankind, it is becoming a priest craft, which will perish. The Mathematician and the plain man each need one another. The democratization of Mathematics is a decisive step in the advance of a civil society History of Mathematics reveals that whenever a society gave due weightage to the knowledge of Mathematics, it made a tremendous progress. When Mathematics makes its contribution in the advancement of science and technology, society draws huge benefits. Its history presents a very good picture of the overall development of our civilization. What we possess in the form of Mathematical knowledge today is the fruit of the combined efforts of all human beings. Mathematics is the common heritage of mankind and it is not the exclusive property of any particular nation, race or country. So it is no exaggeration to say that history of Mathematics is the history of civilization. Ancient men felt their concern with Mathematics, motivated by their social needs and they had done their best on the computational front of their life. It has been found that Babylonians possessed the knowledge of multiplication and division of numbers, taking square and square root of numbers, finding areas of certain geometrical figures. The Egyptian civilization is also owed to Mathematics. Aristotle says that Mathematics had its birth in Egypt, because there the priestly class had leisure needful for its study. They built pyramids at a very early period. The basis of both the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian civilizations were agriculture. In an agricultural economy, a reliable calendar, accurate with respect to both astronomy and arithmetic, is a necessity. When we think of Greek civilization, we could not help to remember the great Mathematicians, like, Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Ptolemy, Archimedes, Apollonius, Pappus, Diophantus, etc. When we go through history, we can see further the contributions from Romans, Chinese, Japanese, Arabs and Indians to Mathematics. A close and careful study of the history will reveal the fact that ancient civilizations are very much related to the development of Mathematics. With the use of mathematics and especially now with the support of the mathematical processing and control machine called the computer, significant advancement are realized in science, technology and arts. The application of mathematics within the context of the socio-cultural environment of man produces harmony, order and peace. It provides serene beauty in man’s physical environment (aesthetic values). It is difficult to imagine how such fields as accountancy, engineering, natural and applied sciences, land surveying, quantity surveying, modern corporate management, education, medicine, banking, finance, actual science, architecture, fine and industrial arts, etc could get along in their services to humanity without mathematics. It becomes necessary that school administrators, teachers, parents/guardians and students should now view mathematics as an all-important subject for making sustenance and development of our society in the 21stcentury and beyond. What is needed now is more mathematics and not less for our industrial growth, since mathematics as a science numbers, quantities and measurements will continue to provide us with empirical statistical data upon which we can base sound decisions in our developmental efforts. While teachers should expose students to various representations of a mathematical idea, he should provide opportunities in class for students’ initiative, independence and creativity in the mathematics classroom.

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