Letter: Modern science relies on facts to bridge racial barriers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Ziauddin Sardar ('Zero didn't come from nowhere', 21 March) appears to be expounding the fair point that non-Western cultures have sound scientific traditions, but he quickly slips into describing science (Western, that is) as an 'ideology', whose practitioners 'manufacture' the laws of nature. It would be helpful to know what all this means.

Ideological criticism, whether in literature or science, sets out to discredit prevailing ideas by exposing the hidden interests of their adherents. Such criticism hardly amounts to an argument against those ideas. As to the manufacturing of laws, it is one thing to say that all understanding must be mediated by our concepts, quite another to suggest that the end result is somehow arbitrary or culturally relative. Garbled and simplistic claims to this effect only obscure the true depth and complexity of these issues.

Yours faithfully,

PIERS BENN

Department of Philosophy

The University

Leeds

23 March

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