C. K. Raju has made some outrageous criticisms of the traditional take on Euclid in particular and Western history in general. Yet he has a book published on the subject with an apparently respectable publisher in India. Have modern historians of the classical period responded to his critique?

Note. One of the responders mentioned a helpful review by Ferreiros here.

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    Aren't they all dead now? – Henning Makholm Jun 27 '16 at 16:06
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    Have these views been published in refereed history of science journals? – Did Jun 27 '16 at 17:07
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    Maybe you can see: José Ferreirós' review of C.K. RAJU, Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, in Philosophia Mathematica Volume 17, Issue 3. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 27 '16 at 18:55
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    I deeply regret spending half an hour reading Mr Raju's articles. I can only imagine how an historian would feel. – Hoot Jun 28 '16 at 13:29
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    @MauroALLEGRANZA, I think you should be able to format your comments and expand them as an answer. – Mikhail Katz Jun 28 '16 at 16:32
up vote 7 down vote accepted

We can see:

  • José Ferreirós' review of C.K. Raju, Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: The Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of the Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. CE, in Philosophia Mathematica Volume 17, Issue 3:

In his interest to revise traditional historiography and oppose proofcentred mathematics, Raju devotes a lot of effort to questioning the existence of Euclid and insisting that the text of the Elements originates at the earliest in 370 CE (with Theon) or perhaps even in the tenth century. In my opinion, this is useless and does not help advance the author’s main theses. For historical purposes, what is relevant is that Elements represents a systematisation of a large portion of geometrical knowledge in the Greekspeaking world before the common era. (‘Euclid’ is simply the name of its otherwise unknown author, whose dates—it is true—are dubious; incidentally, an interesting question would be whether philologists find reason to think that the text of Elements was written by different authors.) Raju insists on the idea that Proclus’s views represent the original philosophy of mathematics in the Elements (p. 25), and he overemphasizes the connections between geometrical proof, Platonism, and Christian religion.


Regarding specifically the possibility that Euclid "the man" was a forgery is totally irrelevant: we know quite nothing about him, but we have "the book": Elements, and its value does not change if it was written by someone else (but in any case by some ancient Greek: we have testimonies...).

If the Elements has been "falsified", this fact does not change of a iota the meaning of its content: the theorems. It is not the same thing as saying that the Holy Bible has not been written by some ancient prophets and in reality is a late Hellenistic forgery.

Regarding in general the approach to history (and history of science as well), my humble opinion is that history is like any other science: conjectures and hypotheses are fundamental, and new insight and a fresh point of view can be useful and necessary, but there is a golden rule: all must be checked with facts.

The articles by Raju have a conspirational flavor. The history of Indian mathematics is still an uncharted territory. There are more informative unbiased articles, for instance, there are much deeper and less biased studies I've read:

A. Seidenberg, “The Origin of Mathematics,” Archive for History of Exact Sciences 18, 301-342 (1978).

S.C.Kak, “Science in Ancient India,” in Ananya: A Portrait of India, Ed. by S.R.Sridhar and N.K.Matto (AIA, New York, 1997), pp. 399–420.

  • Do you mean to say that what Raju is proposing is a conspiracy theory? If so it may be clearer if put that way. – Mikhail Katz Jun 29 '16 at 7:32

Euclid is no myth.Applonius of Perga directly refers to him in one of his books on conic sections ( In book 3, an original version of which has survived,in Greek). I have written an article titled'C.K.Rajus mistake' which is on the net exposing all his false arguments.You can read it.I have introduced a lot of new arguments favouring , an Indian origin to Mathematics, and in the course have introduced some Indian philosophical thoughts,which have influenced greek mathematicians starting from Pythogoras.Independent of whether one agrees to my theory,nevertheless, I have busted Raju's false arguments of Euclid being a myth and many of his arguments against Mathematics(which he calls as formal Mathematics). My paper was published in the 'Mathematics Teacher', the official publication of the society of Mathematics Teachers of India,located in Chennai,India. The name of the article is 'Stop the Tirade against Euclid.Why Euclid should be more emphasized in Schools than is currently done'I changed its title to'C.K.Rajus mistake' while posting it on the net,to catch the attention of people who may be following him. Here is the link to the article. http://www.vixra.org/abs/1504.0198. Regards.

  • That's interesting. Can you provide a link to your paper? Is it published? – Mikhail Katz Aug 1 '16 at 15:09

protected by Zev Chonoles Sep 1 '16 at 4:01

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