Environment Geography Of Thought Pdf


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PDF | Pascal Engel and others published IS THERE A GEOGRAPHY OF Greeks to the present, is dominated by analytic thought, whereas Eastern thought . The Social Origins of Mind -Economics, Social Practices, and Thought. Together vs. Going It Alone -Social Life and Sense of Self in the. Richard Nisbett is not an educational theorist and his output as a social psychologist has not focused on international themes to any significant degree, but he.

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The Geography Of Thought: How Asians And Westerners Think Differently And Why By. Richard E. Nisbett pdf download. The Geography Of. Download The Geography Of Thought: How Asians And Westerners. Think Differently And Why By Richard E. Nisbett EPUB KINDLE PDF. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why is a book . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

Thesis[ edit ] In the book, Nisbett demonstrates that "people actually think about—and even see—the world differently because of differing ecologies , social structures , philosophies , and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China ". The book proposes that the passion for strong ontology and scientific rationality based on forward chaining from axioms is essentially a "Western" phenomenon. Ancient Greece 's passion for abstract categories into which the entire world can be taxonomically arranged, he claims, is prototypically Western, as is the notion of causality.

On the contrary, in the spirit of the Tao or yin-yang principle, A can actually imply that not-A is also the case, or at any rate soon will be the case Events do not occur in isolation from other events, but are always embedded in a meaningful whole in which the elements are constantly changing and rearranging themselves.

It is the Middle Way that is the goal of reasoning. This has been described by other thinkers as being hermeneutic reasonableness. Modern Westerners, like the ancient Greeks, see the world in analytic, atomistic terms; they see objects as discrete and separate from their environments; they see events as moving in linear fashion when they move at all; and they feel themselves to be personally in control of events even when they are not.

Not only are worldviews different in a conceptual way, but also the world is literally viewed in different ways. Asians see the big picture and they see objects in relation to their environments—so much so that it can be difficult for them to visually separate objects from their environments.

Westerners focus on objects while slighting the field and they literally see fewer objects and relationships in the environment than do Asians. For instance, in law, Eastern and Western cultures assign different priorities to, and roles of, the law in society. The ratio of lawyers to engineers is forty times higher in the US than in Japan. The constitutions of some cities had mechanisms to prevent officials from becoming tyrants. For example, the city of Drerus on Crete prohibited a man from holding the office of kosmos magistrate until ten years had gone by since the last time he held the office.

As striking as the Greeks' freedom and individuality is their sense of curiosity about the world. Aristotle thought that curiosity was the uniquely defining property of human beings. Luke said of the Athenians of a later era: "They spend their time in nothing else but to tell or to hear some new thing.

They constructed these models by categorizing objects and events and generating rules about them that were sufficiently precise for systematic description and explanation. This characterized their advances in -- some have said invention of -- the fields of physics, astronomy, axiomatic geometry, formal logic, rational philosophy, natural history, and ethnography.

The word "ethnocentric" is of Greek origin. The term resulted from the Greeks' recognition that their belief that their way of life was superior to that of the Persians might be based on mere prejudice. They decided it was not. Whereas many great contemporary civilizations, as well as the earlier Mesopotamian and Egyptian and the later Mayan civilizations, made systematic observations in all scientific domains, only the Greeks attempted to explain their observations in terms of underlying principles.

Exploring these principles was a source of pleasure for the Greeks.

Our word "school" comes from the Greek schole-, meaning "leisure. The merchants of Athens were happy to send their sons to school so that they could indulge their curiosity. The Ancient Chinese and Harmony While a special occasion for the ancient Greek might mean attendance at plays and poetry readings, a special occasion for the Chinese of the same period would be an opportunity to visit with friends and family.

There was a practice called chuan men, literally "make doors a chain. Those who were visited early were perceived as more important than those who were visited later. The Chinese counterpart to Greek agency was harmony.

Every Chinese was first and foremost a member of a collective, or rather of several collectives -- the clan, the village, and especially the family.

The individual was not, as for the Greeks, an encapsulated unit who maintained a unique identity across social settings.

Instead, as philosopher Henry Rosemont has written: " For the early Confucians, there can be no me in isolation, to be considered abstractly: I am the totality of roles I live in relation to specific others Taken collectively, they weave, for each of us, a unique pattern of personal identity, such that if some of my roles change, the others will of necessity change also, literally making me a different person. The ideal of happiness was not, as for the Greeks, a life allowing the free exercise of distinctive talents, but the satisfactions of a plain country life shared within a harmonious social network.

Whereas Greek vases and wine goblets show pictures of battles, athletic contests, and bacchanalian parties, ancient Chinese scrolls and porcelains depict scenes of family activities and rural pleasures.

The Chinese would not have felt themselves to be the helpless pawns of superiors and family members. On the contrary, there would have been a sense of collective agency. The chief moral system of China -- Confucianism -- was essentially an elaboration of the obligations that obtained between emperor and subject, parent and child, husband and wife, older brother and younger brother, and between friend and friend.

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Chinese society made the individual feel very much a part of a large, complex, and generally benign social organism where clear mutual obligations served as a guide to ethical conduct. Carrying out prescribed roles -- in an organized, hierarchical system -- was the essence of Chinese daily life. There was no counterpart to the Greek sense of personal liberty. Individual rights in China were one's "share" of the rights of the community as a whole, not a license to do as one pleased.

Within the social group, any form of confrontation, such as debate, was discouraged. Though there was a time, called the period of the "hundred schools" of to B. As the British philosopher of science Geoffrey Lloyd has written, "In philosophy, in medicine, and elsewhere there is criticism of other points of view Singers would all sing the same melody and musical instruments played the same notes at the same time. Not surprisingly, it was the Greeks who invented polyphonic music, where different instruments, and different voices, take different parts.

Chinese social harmony should not be confused with conformity. On the contrary, Confucius praised the desire of the gentleman to harmonize and distinguished it from the petty person's need for conformity.

The Zuozhuan, a classic Confucian text, makes the distinction in a metaphor about cooking. A good cook blends the flavors and creates something harmonious and delicious. No flavor is completely submerged, and the savory taste is due to the blended but distinctive contributions of each flavor.

The Chinese approach to understanding the natural world was as different from that of the Greeks as their understanding of themselves. Early in their study of the heavens, the Chinese believed that cosmic events such as comets and eclipses could predict important occurrences on earth, such as the birth of conquerors.

But when they discovered the regularities in these events, so far from building models of them, they lost interest in them.

The Geography of Thought

The lack of wonder among the Chinese is especially remarkable in light of the fact that Chinese civilization far outdistanced Greek civilization technologically. The Chinese have been credited with the original or independent invention of irrigation systems, ink, porcelain, the magnetic compass, stirrups, the wheelbarrow, deep drilling, the Pascal triangle, pound locks on canals, fore-and-aft sailing, watertight compartments, the sternpost rudder, the paddle-wheel boat, quantitative cartography, immunization techniques, astronomical observations of novae, seismographs, and acoustics.

Many of these technological achievements were in place at a time when Greece had virtually none. And as philosopher and sinologist Donald Munro has written, "In Confucianism there was no thought of knowing that did not entail some consequence for action.

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Philosophy in Greece and China The philosophies of Greece and China reflected their distinctive social practices. The Greeks were concerned with understanding the fundamental nature of the world, though in ways that were different in different eras. The philosophers of Ionia including western Turkey, Sicily, and southern Italy of the sixth century B. But the fifth century saw a move toward abstraction and distrust of the senses.

Plato thought that ideas -- the forms -- had a genuine reality and that the world could be understood through logical approaches to their meaning, without reference to the world of the senses. If the senses seemed to contradict conclusions reached from first principles and logic, it was the senses that had to be ignored. Though Aristotle did not grant reality to the forms, he thought of attributes as having a reality distinct from their concrete embodiments in objects.

For him it was meaningful to speak not just of a solid object, but of attributes in the abstract -- solidity, whiteness, etc. The central, basic, sine qua non properties of an object constituted its "essence," which was unchanging by definition, since if the essence of an object changed it was no longer the object but something else. The properties of an object that could change without changing the object's essence were "accidental" properties.

For example, the author is sadly lacking in musical talent, but if he suddenly were to have musical talent, you would still think he was the same person. Musical talent, then, is an accidental property, and change in it does not constitute change in the person's essence.

Greek philosophy thus differed greatly from Chinese in that it was deeply concerned with the question of which properties made an object what it was, and which were alterable without changing the nature of the object.

The Greek language itself encouraged a focus on attributes and on turning attributes into abstractions. As in other Indo-European languages, every adjective can be granted noun status by adding the English equivalent of "ness" as a suffix: "white" becomes "whiteness"; "kind" becomes "kindness. They would then attempt to understand the object's nature, and the cause of its actions, on the basis of rules governing the categories.

So the attributes of a comet would be noted and the object would then be categorized at various levels of abstraction -- this comet, a comet, a heavenly body, a moving object. Rules at various levels of abstraction would be generated as hypotheses and the behavior of the comet explained in terms of rules that seemed to work at a given level of abstraction. But still more basic to Greek philosophy is its background scheme, which regarded the object in isolation as the proper focus of attention and analysis.

Most Greeks regarded matter as particulate and separate -- formed into discrete objects -- just as humans were seen as separate from one another and construed as distinct wholes. Once the object is taken as the starting point, then many things follow automatically: The attributes of the object are salient; the attributes become the basis of categorization of the object; the categories become the basis of rule construction; and events are then understood as the result of objects behaving in accordance with rules.

By "objects" I mean both nonhuman and human objects, but in fact the nature of the physical world was of great concern to Greek philosophers. Human relations and ethical conduct were important to the Greeks but did not have the consuming interest that they did for the Chinese. A peculiar but important aspect of Greek philosophy is the notion that the world is fundamentally static and unchanging. To be sure, the sixth-century philosopher Heraclitus and other early philosophers were concerned with change.

Parmenides "proved," in a few easy steps, that change was impossible: To say of a thing that it does not exist is a contradiction.

Nonbeing is self-contradictory and so nonbeing can't exist. If nonbeing can't exist, then nothing can change because, if thing 1 were to change to thing 2, then thing 1 would not be! Parmenides created an option for Greek philosophers: They could trust either logic or their senses.

From Plato on, they often went with logic. Zeno, the pupil of Parmenides, established in a similar way that motion was impossible. He did this in two demonstrations.

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One is his famous demonstration with the arrow. In order for an arrow to reach a target, it first has to go halfway toward the target, then halfway between that and the target, and then halfway between that and the target, etc. But of course half of a half of a half Ergo, visual evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, movement can't occur. The other "proof" was even simpler.

Either a thing is in its place or it is not. If it is in its place, then it cannot move. It is impossible for a thing not to be in its place; therefore nothing moves. As communications theorist Robert Logan has written, the Greeks "became slaves to the linear, either-or orientation of their logic. He believed, for example, that all celestial bodies were immutable, perfect spheres and though motion occurs and events happen, the essences of things do not change.

Moreover, Aristotle's physics is highly linear. Changes in rate of motion, let alone cyclical motion, play little role in Aristotle's physics. It is partly for this reason that Aristotle's physics was so remarkably misguided. Gordon Kane, a physicist friend of mine, has identified a large number of physical propositions in Aristotle's writings. He maintains that the great majority of them are wrong.

This is especially puzzling because Aristotle's Ionian predecessors got many of them right. The Chinese orientation toward life was shaped by the blending of three different philosophies: Taoism, Confucianism, and, much later, Buddhism. Each philosophy emphasized harmony and largely discouraged abstract speculation. There is an ancient Chinese story, still known to most East Asians today, about an old farmer whose only horse ran away.

Knowing that the horse was the mainstay of his livelihood, his neighbors came to commiserate with him. And indeed, a few days later his horse returned, bringing with it a wild horse. The old man's friends came to congratulate him. Rejecting their congratulations, the old man said, "Who knows what's bad or good? The friends came to express their sadness about the son's misfortune. A few weeks passed, and the army came to the village to conscript all the able-bodied men to fight a war against the neighboring province, but the old man's son was not fit to serve and was spared.

The story, which goes on as long as the patience of the audience permits, expresses a fundamental of the Eastern stance toward life. The world is constantly changing and is full of contradictions. To understand and appreciate one state of affairs requires the existence of its opposite; what seems to be true now may be the opposite of what it seems to be cf.

Communist-era Premier Chou En-lai's response when asked whether he thought the consequences of the French Revolution had been beneficial: "It's too early to tell". Yin the feminine and dark and passive alternates with yang the masculine and light and active. Indeed yin and yang only exist because of each other, and when the world is in a yin state, this is a sure sign that it is about to be in a yang state.

The sign of the Tao, which means "the Way" to exist with nature and with one's fellow humans, consists of two forces in the form of a white and a black swirl. But the black swirl contains a white dot and the white swirl contains a black dot. And "the truest yang is the yang that is in the yin. From the I Ching: " For misery, happiness is leaning against it; for happiness, misery is hiding in it.

Who knows whether it is misery or happiness? There is no certainty. The righteous suddenly becomes the vicious, the good suddenly becomes the bad" I Ching, xxx. From the Tao Te Ching: "The heavy is the root of the light The unmoved is the source of all movement" Chapter Returning -- moving in endless cycles -- is the basic pattern of movement of the Tao. To shrink something You need to expand it first To weaken something You need to strengthen it first To abolish something You need to flourish it first To take something You need to give it first Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36 Aside from Taoism's teachings about opposition, contradiction, change, and cycles, it stood for a deep appreciation of nature, the rural life, and simplicity.

It was the religion of wonder, magic, and fancy, and it gave meaning to the universe through its account of the links between nature and human affairs. Taoism is the source of much of the philosophy behind the healing arts of China. Physiology was explained on a symbolic level by the yin-yang principle and by the Five Elements earth, fire, water, metal, and wood , which also provided the explanations behind magic, incantations, and aphrodisiacs. The ubiquitous word was ch'i, meaning variously "breath," "air," or "spirit.

His concern was with the proper relations among people, which in his system were hierarchical and strictly spelled out. Each member of each of the important relationship pairs husband-wife, etc. Confucianism has been called the religion of common sense. Its adherents are urged to uphold the Doctrine of the Golden Mean -- to be excessive in nothing and to assume that between two propositions, and between two contending individuals, there is truth on both sides.

But in reality, Confucianism, like Taoism, is less concerned with finding the truth than with finding the Tao -- the Way -- to live in the world.

Confucianism stresses economic well-being and education. The individual works not for self-benefits but for the entire family. Indeed, the concept of self-advancement, as opposed to family advancement, is foreign to cultures that are steeped in the Confucian orientation.

A promising young man was expected to study for the government examinations with the hope of becoming a magistrate. If he did, his whole family benefited economically from his position.

Unlike most of the world until very modern times, there was substantial social and economic mobility in China.

Everyone who lived long enough would see families rise far higher than their origins and others sink far lower. Perhaps partly for this reason, Confucians have always believed, far more than the intellectual descendants of Aristotle, in the malleability of human nature.

Confucianism blended smoothly with Taoism. In particular, the deep appreciation of the contradictions and changes in human life, and the need to see things whole, that are integral to the notion of a yin-yang universe are also part of Confucian philosophy. But the dominant themes of nature and the rural life are much more associated with Taoism than with Confucianism, and the importance of the family and educational and economic advancement are more integral to Confucianism.

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These thematic differences are reflected in paintings on porcelains and scrolls. Characteristic Tao-inspired themes would include a picture of a fisherman, a woodcutter, or a lone individual sitting under trees.

Confucian-inspired themes would center on the family, with pictures of many people of different ages engaging in shared activities. Different individuals in ancient China, and for that matter in contemporary China, would likely emphasize one of the orientations more than the other. This might depend in part on station in life.

There is an adage holding that every Chinese is a Confucianist when he is successful and a Taoist when he is a failure. Buddhism came to China from India hundreds of years after the classical period we are discussing. The Chinese readily absorbed congenial aspects of Buddhism, including what had been missing in Chinese philosophy, notably an epistemology, or theory of knowledge.

All three orientations shared concerns about harmony, holism, and the mutual influence of everything on almost everything else. These orientations help explain why Chinese philosophy not only lacked a conception of individual rights but, it sometimes seems at least after Buddhism began to exert an influence , an acknowledgment of individual minds.

A twelfth-century neo-Confucian wrote, "The universe is my mind and my mind is the universe. Sages appeared tens of thousands of generations ago. They shared this mind; they shared this principle.The Greeks were concerned with understanding the fundamental nature of the world, though in ways that were different in different eras. For those who would like to have a solid knowledge and grasp of the root causes of cultural differences - this is the best book I've come across.

Chinese social life was interdependent and it was not liberty but harmony that was the watchword -- the harmony of humans and nature for the Taoists and the harmony of humans with other humans for the Confucians. Cultural similarities and differences in social inference: Evidence from behavioral predictions and lay theories of behavior. Enhanced Typesetting: They had knowledge of magnetism and acoustic resonance, for example, and believed it was the movement of the moon that caused the tides, a fact thateluded even Galileo.

Such a contention pits his work squarely against evolutionary psychology as articulated by Steven Pinker and others and cognitive science, which assume all appreciable human characteristics are "hard wired.

Though Aristotle did not grant reality to the forms, he thought of attributes as having a reality distinct from their concrete embodiments in objects.

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