The Geography Of Thought

The Geography Of Thought

How Asians And Westerners Think Differently...and Why

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When Richard Nisbett showed an animated underwater scene to his American students, they zeroed in on a big fish swimming among smaller fish.Japanese subjects, on the other hand, made observations about the background environment...and the different seeings are a clue to profound underlying cognitive differences between Westerners and East Asians. As Professor Nisbett shows in The Geography of Thought people actually think - and even see - the world differently, because of differing ecologies, social structures, philosophies, and educational systems that date back to ancient Greece and China, and that have survived into the modern world. As a result, East Asian thought is holistic - drawn to the perceptual field as a whole, and to relations among objects and events within that field. By comparison to Western modes of reasoning, East Asian thought relies far less on categories, or on formal logic: it is fundamentally dialectic, seeking a middle way between opposing thoughts. By contrast, Westerners focus on salient objects or people, use attributes to assign them to categories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behavior.
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey,
ISBN: 9781857883282
Branch Call Number: ANF 153.4 NISB
Characteristics: 263 p. ; 24 cm


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Sep 24, 2012

This book describes how the Western and eastern ways of thinking evolved in different ways based in the main influences of ancient times. These influences in the West came mostly from the urban/trading Greece and in the East mostly from rural/farming communities all over China and its neighbors.
The profiles that the author, Mr Nisbett, presents actually extend to urban and rural comunnities in general. Nisbett hismself noticed it when looking at Europe in the Middle ages and I notice it right today in our very nation, which has a mostly rural backgroud.
Some of this rural/farming characteristics are excessive focus in harmony and agreement within the community. What Nisbett missed was that rural/farming communitirs develop way mistrut to outsiders, unlike city people.
R. Nisbett was excessively kind to the East, and you should read a more critical description of the East in "Shutting Out The Sun" by M Zielenziger. He covered Japan and a bit of Korea, but his work can extend farther.
Despite Nisbett's mistakes, his work is still very good and will let you understand Easterners better. For example, I got interested in them after discovering their unique cartoons or "anime" and this book let me undertand many things far better than books on anime and popular Japanese culture.

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