What You Call One We Call Infinity


egash.african.fractals

Today’s op-ed author rightly points to begging the question for claims no departments of Euro-American Mathematical Studies exist; they do! Their existential bias is that found in the African-American philosophical proverb of the blind mule (cited by J. Mason Brewer). Deconstructed, the blind mule has more than 200 reasons for how/why his condition produces errors of unwitting thinking and doing, including ignoring evidence and willful arrogance.

Africa’s Dogon people mathematically traced undiscovered stars (found in the West in the 1930s). Enslaved Africans handmade mortar and pestles for Charleston’s rice husking for workers of different size/age/strength to produce the same quality of outcome: 95% of husked grains unbroken. Depth from the lip of the pestle was used to control the standard of force (the length of the drop); the concave shape of the mortar the pestle determined the transmission of force (its angular momentum); the crafting also saved fatigue with a twin-headed pestle.

Add examples of the incredible complex, changing mathematical relationships within African drumming and a parallel philosophy and approach to math emerges: one focused on applying the right principles for problem-solving, from art to agriculture.

From engineering to art, non-Western math is aligned with the infinite relations of practical conditions (for example, ancient China’s underground reservoirs!)–or the I Ching model of human situations/conditions/behaviors–revealed through binary math, an dynamic, interactive aesthetic of quantity and quality.

If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is http://nyti.ms/23ZFZaZ

I Ching

The I Ching

IChingtable


Replies:

~~Seriously? That’s it’s? I guess Harvard would pay for it, no one else would.

~~There are many histories of mathematical development. But there is only one mathematics. People who study mathematics, as opposed to the history of mathematics, study it in its modern formulation.

~~All the southern engineering was performed by Scots.


My Reply:

That mathematical system, focused on infinite harmony (even within dissonance!) produce the richest global agricultural commodity in world history–rice!–and provided the key methodological/ontological/epistemological elements successfully replicated in a series of more than a thousand 300 to 5,000 acre mathematically designed fields, complete with dikes, back flow systems, trunk locks and canals, and planting and draining systems (every step completely foreign and unknown to European property holders!).

That approach of math and philosophy created the American dream (vast wealth for know nothing, foreign paupers!) by increasing its harvested tonnage, expanded the iron smelting industry in England, took Sweden out of recession, fed enslaved workers in Caribbean sugar cane fields, sold rice to Persia and China, and fueled the largest displacement of humans for forced labor in history. “Seriously?” Its purchases of New England rum and ships helped pay for Harvard. (Click to enlarge images.)



~~Thanks, Walter. Nice pair of comments. I remember in graduate school (art history) feeling grumpy about having to study criticism and critical viewpoints. By the end of the first course, I was hooked. I had a couple of professors who could explain exactly how postmodernism and poststructuralism were affecting our modern society down to the ordinary person. In papers I wrote I applied, as best I could, perspectives and paradigms native to the culture I was studying to the analysis of what we call art. I was focusing on Asian and other non-Western traditions. The point is, the richness in traditions we study to ignore is our loss when we believe we aleady know it all.

~~Walter–I so look forward to your responses–always so beautifully written. Are you a writer or professor yourself? Thank you again for such well phrased educational examples. You are clearly a Renaissance man!

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