Geography of Thought How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... and Why

ISBN-10: 0743216466
ISBN-13: 9780743216463
Edition: 2003
List price: $24.00 Buy it from $3.00
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Description: Everyone knows that while different cultures may think about the world differently, they use the same equipment for doing their thinking. Everyone knows that whatever the skin color, nationality, or religion, every human being uses the same tools  More...

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Book details

List price: $24.00
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 2/25/2003
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

Everyone knows that while different cultures may think about the world differently, they use the same equipment for doing their thinking. Everyone knows that whatever the skin color, nationality, or religion, every human being uses the same tools for perception, for memory, and for reasoning. Everyone knows that a logically true statement is true in English, German, or Hindi. Everyone knows that when a Chinese and an American look at the same painting, they see the same painting.But what if everyone is wrong?When psychologist Richard E. 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. For, as Professor Nisbett shows inThe Geography of Thought,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 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 catergories, and apply rules of formal logic to understand their behavior.The Geography of Thoughtdocuments Professor Nisbett's groundbreaking international research in cultural psychology, a series of comparative studies both persuasive in their rigor and startling in their conclusions, addressing questions such as: Why did the ancient Chinese excel at algebra and arithmetic, but not geometry, the brilliant achievement of such Greeks as Euclid? Why do East Asians find it so difficult to disentangle an object from its surroundings? Why do Western infants learn nouns more rapidly than verbs, when it is the other way around in East Asia? What are the implications of these cognitive differences for the future of international politics? Do they support a Fukuyamaesque "end of history" scenario or a Huntingtonian "clash of civilizations"?From feng shui to metaphysics, from comparative linguistics to economic history, a gulf separates the children of Aristotle from the descendants of Confucius. At a moment in history when the need for cross-cultural understanding and collaboration have never been more important,The Geography of Thoughtoffers both a map to that gulf and a blueprint for a bridge that might be able to span it.

Richard E. Nisbett is Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and Research Professor at Michigan's Institute for Social Research. He has taught courses in social psychology, cultural psychology, cognitive psychology, and evolutionary psychology. His research focuses on how people from different cultures think, perceive, feel, and act in different ways. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association and the William James Fellow Award of the American Psychological Society and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
The Syllogism and the Tao: Philosophy, Science, and Society in Ancient Greece and China
The Social Origins of Mind: Economics, Social Practices, and Thought
Living Together vs. Going It Alone: Social Life and Sense of Self in the Modern East and West
"Eyes in Back of Your Head" or "Keep Your Eye on the Ball"?: Envisioning the World
"The Bad Seed" or "The Other Boys Made Him Do It"?: Causal Attribution and Causal Modeling East and West
Is the World Made Up of Nouns or Verbs?: Categories and Rules vs. Relationships and Similarities
"Ce N'est Pas Logique" or "You've Got a Point There"?: Logic and the Law of Noncontradiction vs. Dialectics and the Middle Way
And If the Nature of Thought Is Not Everywhere the Same?: Implications for Psychology, Philosophy, Education, and Everyday Life
Epilogue: The End of Psychology or the Clash of Mentalities?: The Longevity of Differences
Notes
References
Index

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