10. Is knowledge in mathematics and other Areas of Knowledge dependent on culture to the same degree and in the same ways?

Essay by scagneasHigh School, 12th grade February 2005

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At first sight, the answer to this question may seem obvious: a casual reader might glance at it and give it a confident "no". Even though this is the position that I take, I do believe that there are many more things to consider when attempting to answer this question. It requires an answer much more complex than the knee-jerk reaction one can have upon the first reading, given the many concepts it refers to.

First of all, the question is difficult because it immediately requires an investigation into the different Areas of Knowledge. As a result, we must evaluate each area of knowledge (Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Human Sciences, History, the Arts) and, after this, we can reach a conclusion as to the similarities regarding the dependence on culture between mathematics and the other areas of knowledge. Mathematics and History, being the two Areas of Knowledge with the greatest potential for evaluation, will be addressed last.

Natural Sciences, at least in the general opinion, are regarded to be relatively independent of culture. This school of thought, while not "wrong" in the strictest sense of the word, can be disproved to an extent. Science can be affected by culture, as illustrated by the Western hemisphere's search for a cure for cancer.

The negative aspects of North American culture, such as an increasingly sedentary population and deteriorating eating habits, have contributed greatly to a sharp rise in the number of new cancer cases we have seen in recent years . This has resulted in a need for more medically oriented research. The factors leading to this (our social and physical habits) can be easily regarded as cultural; therefore, we can conclude that cancer research is a scientific endeavor that has been partially brought about by our culture.

The same can be said...