You do understand that knowledge and culture are two independent themes or concepts that can not be used interchangeably.
So, with this as a stepping stone, we move towards an understanding that it is not necessary that knowledge and culture will mutually exist, but also the fact that they are not mutually exclusive, implying that they can be correlated.
So, the question here is that do we have knowledge that is independent of cultural inclinations or not. Let’s understand that by understanding both the terminologies.
1. What is Knowledge?
Knowledge, as we say can be any data or information that we have, which makes us more aware of any particular subject, but it is not limited to researched or learned bookish information.
Knowledge also includes the experiences that we have and the learnings we have from those.
So, the knowledge, we can say comprises all activities that help us build a better understanding of things, concepts, and the world around us; which can be acquired by doing different activities, reading or learning about different subjects, acquiring various skills and living in the world everyday growing mentally, physically, emotionally and socially.
2. What is Culture?
Culture is what we call the knowledge of a certain group of individuals which can be huge or small.
A part of the society that follows certain beliefs in life is said to be following a culture.
This can be explained by saying that a set of people who believe in a particular religion, follow a particular lifestyle, wear clothes of a certain matter, eat a typical kind of food, or listen to a specific kind of music.
Culture basically encompasses everything in their lives. It is like a worldly view of their lives.
3. Can there be Knowledge that is Independent of Culture?
To establish this we first have to know that knowledge is something that is verifiable, so it is possible that you have the knowledge and based on that you build something which means, that knowledge can lead to cultural beliefs.
However, the flip side is that if you have some belief and in this case let us assume that it is a cultural belief, it is not verifiable so it can lead to knowledge.
Culture is not a fact, it can never be.
It looks very strong because it is only because a person’s or community’ or society’s belief in it is very strong.
But if we break down, we will understand why is it so. Culture is just a set of characteristics, a set of values. It is built upon the practices and customs that are professed by that social and ethnic group.
These look like knowledge because these are instilled in children right from their birth and they basically grow up to be the same or similar people.
The practices can be inspired by religious or spiritual practices, can be a part of imagination, or just an extrapolation of present customs.
3.1. Example 1
Now, if we consider knowledge that is scientific or mathematical, we will go down to how we come to these laws or facts. For instance, if we look at any theory or law of science that we follow in today’s time or any mathematical formula.
How are these verified, or how do they attain the status wherein they get worldwide acceptance and everyone uses them in one particular format only?
This is done by a process where different people from across the world come down and verify it based on all exceptions and then make a standardized formula.
So, these people do not bias their solutions based on their cultural values or beliefs. They do this practice based on their understanding and excellence in that particular subject.
So, we can safely say that all such knowledge is independent of culture.
3.2. Example 2
To bring another perspective, we will now take a different example. We all have some or other ideas about the religious or theological scriptures of our respective countries and regions.
So, now in India, we have all known or heard about the Hanuman Chalisa which in this context is a story that glorifies the work and devotion of the monkey, god Hanuman towards Rama.
This was written in India around some thousands of years ago.
Now, if we look around India not very far off, we will find that many Asian countries have similar folklore or theological stories that are essentially built on the same theme or the same base story.
They might have a slightly different animal or some minute changes in the plot. Now, when you give it a bird’s eye view, we will see that people who have written these texts are not really connected with each other.
These are people from different countries who have never really met with each other or have no connection, yet they are producing texts that are so similar. This shows that the knowledge that they share is somewhat universal.
4. Final Thoughts
Given all that we have discussed above, we can clearly state that we can have knowledge that is independent of culture, but we cannot have culture independent of knowledge.
These can vary however when we consider idealistic views or dualist views.
But then variables will keep changing and we can keep on modifying ourselves around it, because if we dwell deeper we can also see some kind of cultural influences in mathematical understandings as well, so putting out any aspect outrightly away will not really work in this setting.