“The geography of thought” – Richard Nisbett

Westerners “live in a simpler, more deterministic world; they focus on [important] objects or people instead of the larger picture; and they think they can control events because they know the rules that govern the behavior of objects”.

.. on the other hand ..

“The Chinese believe in constant change. They pay attention to a wide range of events; they search for relationships between things; and they think you can’t understand the part without understanding the whole”.

Both these quotes are from Richard Nisbett’s book The Geography of Thought, exploring the the culture of thinking from East to West, the gulf between us and a blueprint to build a bridge. 

It’s a book to helps us better understand other cultures and to explore and understand our own. Thinking isn’t only thinking, you think the way you do because of your culture, upbringing, education and more…

Two more quotes from the book:

“.. Where the Greek saw a collection of persons with attributes that were independent of any connections with others. Complexity and interrelation meant for the Chinese that an attempt to understand the object without appreciation of its context was doomed. Under the best of circumstances control of outcomes was difficult.”

“The Chinese where right about the importance of the field to an understanding of the behavior of the object and they were right about complexity, but their lack of interest in categories prevented them from discovering laws that really are capable of explaining classes of events. And for all that the greeks tended to oversimplify and to be satisfied by pseudo-explanations involving non-existent properties of objects, they correctly understood that it was necessary to categorize objects in order to be able to apply rules to them”.

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