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Universal Truths or Cultural Biases? Can Knowledge Exist Outside Our Upbringing?

We often say that XYZ has knowledge of lots of subjects or he/she is very rooted in their culture. I want to ask you, do these both mean the same? Obviously not! Still, I have met many people who get confused between knowledge and culture. I don’t understand why. As 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 knowledge and culture don’t need to mutually exist. However, this is also the fact that they are not mutually exclusive, implying that they can be correlated.

So, the question here is- do we have knowledge that is independent of cultural inclinations? Well, I think this can be a good topic for debate. Okay, here I’ll clear some of the concepts about both in detail.

Let Me Explain the Knowledge and Culture in Short

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. It also includes the experiences that we have and the learnings we have from those.

So, the knowledge, we can say comprises all activities. They 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.

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.

In an interview with the Icy Whiz team, Ryan Hammill, Executive Director at Ancient Language Institute, shared his opinion on shaping knowledge. Here is what he said:

Ryan Hammill - Featured
Ryan Hammill

I’ve observed that learning theories often suggest universal processes, yet the implementation of educational strategies can be highly culturally specific.

For example, the concept of collaborative learning is widely endorsed in educational psychology, but how collaboration is structured and valued can vary dramatically among different cultural contexts.

Understanding this helps in designing education systems that respect cultural norms while promoting effective learning strategies.

This differentiation between universally applicable educational principles and culturally specific teaching methods is critical for creating inclusive and effective educational environments.”

Can There Be Knowledge 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. It 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 a person’s or community’ or society’s belief in it is very strong.

But if we break down, we will understand the reason behind it. Culture is just a set of characteristics, a set of values. It is built upon the practices and customs professed by any social and ethnic group.

These seem like knowledge because these are instilled in children right from birth. Yes the beliefs we learn from our elders since our childhood become a part of our personality that we assume as knowledge.

These beliefs can be inspired by religious or spiritual practices. They can be a part of imagination or just an extrapolation of present customs.

Tim Parker, Director of Syntax Integration, talked to the Icy Whiz team and found it difficult to differentiate culturally specific knowledge from universally applicable knowledge. Here is what he had to say:

Tim Parker - Featured
Tim Parker

“From my personal experience, it is challenging to differentiate culturally specific knowledge from universally applicable knowledge without giving due regard to context and perspective.

Although certain truths transcend cultural boundaries, cultural lenses inevitably influence our comprehension and interpretation of them. 

This differentiation emphasizes the intricate and ever-changing connection between culture and knowledge, underscoring the necessity for intercultural discourse and recognition of varied viewpoints.”

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.

These people do not bias their solutions based on their cultural values or beliefs. They practice this based on their understanding and excellence in that particular subject. So, we can safely say that all such knowledge is independent of culture.

2. Example 2

To bring another perspective, I will now give another 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.

We interviewed Ray Pierce, CEO of Zippy Cash for Cars, and asked him for his opinion. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Ray Pierce
Ray Pierce

“Knowledge can have both universal and culturally specific aspects. Certain fundamental scientific principles and mathematical truths seem to be universally applicable across cultures.

However, the way knowledge is interpreted, prioritized, and applied is often heavily influenced by cultural contexts, belief systems, and lived experiences.

Local knowledge rooted in particular traditions, practices, and worldviews can provide invaluable insights but may not translate seamlessly across different cultural boundaries.

As a business leader, I strive to balance universally accepted best practices with an appreciation for the nuances of operating within diverse cultural landscapes.

Recognizing both the shared and distinct elements of knowledge allows us to broaden our perspectives while remaining grounded in core truths.”


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. If we dwell deeper we can also see some kind of cultural influences in mathematical understanding as well. So putting out any aspect outrightly away will not really work in this setting.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Pragya


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. As someone passionate about knowledge and deeply connected to my culture, the article’s exploration of the interplay between the two was enlightening. The nuanced discussion that touches on knowledge existence and its dependence on culture and the other way round. A thought-provoking perspective that challenges simplistic views.

  2. I found this article’s exploration of culture and its intricate connection to knowledge quite thought-provoking. The idea that cultural beliefs can influence knowledge and vice versa raises intriguing questions about the interplay between our worldly views and the verifiability of information. The analogy between culture and a worldly view added a unique perspective to the discussion, making it accessible even for someone new to the topic.

  3. The exploration of the relationship between knowledge and culture is thought-provoking. Recognizing that knowledge and culture are distinct concepts but not necessarily mutually exclusive opens up a nuanced discussion. The delineation of knowledge as encompassing both researched information and experiential learning broadens our understanding.

  4. I do agree with the author that culture is not verifiable, whereas knowledge is. They are two different concepts. These two variables will keep changing, and we will too change accordingly.

  5. The article delves into the intriguing connection between knowledge and culture, explaining how some knowledge can exist independently of cultural influences. It navigates through definitions, offering thought-provoking examples, particularly in distinguishing scientific knowledge from cultural beliefs. Overall, a fascinating exploration.

  6. Anushree gave a good explanation for knowledge. Culture varies from person to person. Good knowledge creates some impact on culture. The article delves into the connection between knowledge and culture. It’s really worth discussing… useful to be referred.

  7. Your exploration of the relationship between knowledge and culture is insightful. By distinguishing these two concepts, you highlight their independent nature while acknowledging the potential for correlation.
    The breakdown of knowledge as encompassing both factual information and experiential learning adds depth to the discussion. The recognition that knowledge extends beyond bookish information to include everyday experiences and skills broadens our understanding.

  8. The exploration of knowledge and culture in this context is insightful. The distinction between knowledge, which encompasses experiences and learnings, and culture, which involves the beliefs and practices of a group, is well-defined. The examples provided, such as scientific knowledge being standardized globally and the similarities in theological stories across different cultures, highlight instances where knowledge can be independent of culture. The nuanced discussion acknowledges the complexity of the relationship between knowledge and culture, emphasizing that while some knowledge may be universal, cultural influences can still be present in various aspects of understanding.

  9. I like this article! It talks about if knowledge can be separate from culture. It asks if what we know can be the same for everyone, no matter where they’re from. I think it’s important to think about how what we know is connected to our culture. This article gives good ideas to help us understand this better.

  10. Your exploration on knowledge and culture is like a mind workout! Loved how you’ve unraveled the intricate dance between verifiable facts and cultural beliefs.

  11. Knowledge and culture are like two separate philosophies in our lives! Knowledge is gained, and culture is inherited!!! This article drew my attention because it explores the cool difference between them. We gather knowledge from our everyday learning and experiences, while we carry our culture lifelong, always with us on the journey of life. This article really made me think about how to distinguish between knowledge and culture !!!

  12. I must admit that this comes as a surprise and I am glad I came across this blog. It turns out that I don’t have to relate knowledge to a culture but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. This revelation is an excellent way of promoting culture tolerance and that’s great for the world.

  13. I think gaining knowledge without thinking about culture will help in increasing the scientific intelligence of a person. But learn about their culture is really important in getting along with people close to them and in being street smart.

  14. Reading this article about knowledge and culture was eye-opening for me, someone who loves learning and is deeply connected to my roots. It talks about how knowledge and culture depend on each other—it’s not just a one-way thing. The comparison of culture to a worldview made it easier for me to understand, even if I’m not an expert. I agree that knowledge can be checked, but culture keeps changing, and we adapt with it. Anushree’s explanation about how good knowledge impacts culture was interesting, and overall, it’s a discussion worth having and referring to.

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