Mathematics and Civil Society Dr. P. G. Thomaskutty Reader in Economics Mar Ivanios College Trivandrum, India Outside the Class-room 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 Mathematics is the Mirror of Civilization It is rightly said that, ‘Mathematics is the mirror of civilisation’. The history of Mathematics portrays the culture and civilisation of a Civil Society. A close and careful study of the history will reveal the fact that ancient civilizations are very much related to the development of Mathematics. History of Mathematics is the history of civilization History of Mathematics reveals that whenever a society gave due weightage to the knowledge of Mathematics, it made a tremendous progress Mathematics is the Common Heritage 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. Through History Babylonians possessed the knowledge of multiplication and division of numbers, taking square and square root of numbers, finding areas of certain geometrical figures 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. 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. Educational Values of Mathematics Practical or Utilitarian Values Disciplinary Values Cultural Values Social Values Moral Values Aesthetic Values Recreational Values Practical or Utilitarian Values A common man can get on sometimes ‘very’ well without learning how to read and write, but he can never pull on without learning how to count and calculate. Any person ignorant of Mathematics will be at the mercy of others and will be easily cheated. The knowledge of its fundamental processes and the skill to use them are the preliminary requirements of human being these days For Personal Use Most individual as well as group projects in life fail for want of sense of calculation. A person with proper calculations, can anticipate all the possible handicaps to be faced and thus can adopt precautionary measures. An individual is the smallest unit of a Civil Society. The society can flourish only if the smallest unit flourishes. For the Society In many occupations indirect or direct use of Mathematics is made. Many of the projects depend upon Mathematics for their successful functioning. It has become the basis of the world’s entire business and commercial system. Mathematical illiteracy in the masses is a formidable barrier in the way of a country’s progress. One is sometimes misled about the practical value of Mathematics on account of a feeling that whatever is taught in higher classes is of little use to live in the society. The common man seldom uses the knowledge in higher Mathematics in his later life. But the value of a subject cannot be measured in this way. The great Napoleon said, ‘the progress and the improvement of Mathematics are linked to the prosperity of the state’ Disciplinary Values The habit of carefully analysing the situation before decision making could be very helpful in complex life situations where decision making becomes very difficult. As Mathematics deals with facts, which are accurate and precise, there is no scope for uncertainty or vagueness. This makes the mind of the learner more broad and open. He enjoys a universal acceptance, without any barriers of countries, languages, climate, etc. The knowledge of Mathematics helps the members of the society to organise his ideas more logically and express his thoughts more accurately and explicitly. It trains the members not to take things for granted, or rely on tradition or authority, but rely on reasoning. Cultural Values The essence of culture of a Civil Society is in the mode of living of its members. The culture reflects how they live, behave, dress, eat, drink, rear their children, and maintain their social relationship. The mode of living of the members of a society is greatly determined by the scientific and technological advancement, which in turn depends upon the progress and development of Mathematics. Therefore the changes in modes of living and thereby the culture has been continuously influenced by the progress in Mathematics. Mathematics also helps in the preservation and transmission of our cultural traditions. Social Values Mathematics helps in the proper organisation and maintenance of a fruitful social structure. It plays an important role in the proper setting up of social institutions such as banks, co-operatives, railways, post offices, insurance companies, industries, transports, navigation and so on. Effective business transactions, exports and imports, trade and commerce and communication cannot take place without Mathematics. Thus smooth and orderly functioning of the civil society is ensured by Mathematics. Individual and the Society The success of an individual in a society depends on how well he is able to become a part of the society and what contributions he can make towards the progress of the society and how well he can be benefited by the society. Today, our social existence is totally governed by the scientific and technological knowledge, which can only be attained by the study of Mathematics. Mathematical methods and logics are used to investigate, analyse and draw inferences regarding the formation of various social laws and their compliance. More over the values acquired through learning Mathematics will help the individual to adjust himself and lead a harmonious life in the society. Moral Values The study of Mathematics helps an individual in his character formation in many ways. It develops in him a proper attitude, as there is no space for prejudiced feelings, biased outlook, discrimination and irrational thinking. It aids him in objective analysis, correct reasoning, valid conclusions and impartial judgment. These moral values inculcated in the individual help him to become a successful member of his society. Aesthetic Values Mathematics enriches with its aesthetic appeal. The elegance and gracefulness of Mathematical relationships touches our emotions, much like music and art can reach inside the psyche and make us feel truly alive. When we go through the biographies of great Mathematicians, we see that almost all of them were attracted to this ‘divine discipline’, by realising its beauty. They were not studying Mathematics, but worshipping it. The fineness, the harmony, the symmetry everything adds its beauty. Music or art are simply the outcome of this eternal beauty. Recreational Values Mathematics gives a variety of recreational opportunities to grown up people as well as children. Mathematics entertains people. Various puzzles, games, riddles, etc., of Mathematics, give people recreation and entertainment. The modern video-computer games are all developed through proper use of Mathematics. The significance of this type of recreation is that, this enables one to develop his imagination, sharpen his intellect and draw satisfaction to his mind. The human brain is an organ that improves with exercise. The study of Mathematics thus gives sufficient exercise to the brain of an individual. For the practitioner of Mathematics, the daily joy of untwisting some strange Mathematical relationship is always entertaining. Empirical Study The main objectives of the study were: to evaluate the impact of Mathematics learning in individual life; and to evaluate the impact of Mathematics learning in social life. Classification : Formal Education in Mathematics Classification : Primary Occupation Classification : Opinion on Values of Mathematics Conclusion Even though a good percentage of people are unaware of the relation between Civil Society and Mathematics, it does not mean that the relation is insignificant. The structure and functioning of the Society is highly depending on Mathematics. But the only thing is that the members of the Society, irrespective of their education level or occupation is highly ignorant towards this relationship. In this world of technological savvy, we cannot think of a Mathematics-free society. What can we do… We should see and admit the goodness in Mathematics. No doubt, this will make our society progress with enormous power. So there should be a move from the part of Mathematics Teachers and Academicians to make the public aware of the values of learning Mathematics, especially its Social values. References Anice James, Teaching of Mathematics, Neelkamal Publications, Hyderabad, India, 2005 Bell, E. T., The Development of Mathematics, McGraw Hill, New York, 1940 Clawson, C. C., Mathematical Sorcery, Viva Books, India, 2004. Hogben, L., Mathematics for the Million, Norton &Company, New York, 1937. Kulshrestha, A. K. , Teaching of Mathematics, (Third Edition), Surya Publications, Meerut, India, 2005 Sidhu, K. S. , The Teaching of Mathematics, (Fourth Edition), Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, India, 1995 References Websites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_society http://www-groups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/~history/Indexes/Babylonians.html http://www-groups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/~history/Indexes/Egyptians.html A Word of Thanks… The author would like to thank the organizers, especially Dr. Mohamed B. Rhouma, Sultan Qaboos University, and Dr. Lotfi Hermi, Arizona University for inviting him to this International Conference.