The Geography of Thought

Topics: Chinese philosophy, China, Song Dynasty Pages: 7 (2239 words) Published: June 15, 2014
Thought is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind.” Thought can be influenced by different geographic locations, cultures, customs, religions and beliefs. On opposite sides of the world geographically there are advantages thinking like both an Easterner and Westerner. Eastern thinking is founded on many different principles than Western thinking. Differences in every aspect of life can be found among these civilizations. For instance, education varies differently between both these countries. In Eastern thought education is viewed as expanding ones knowledge and curiosity for self-fulfillment. To educate oneself is for own personal growth and knowledge unlike the Greeks. For example, Greek culture rules that through education, power and wealth can be achieved. Although there was an emphasis on this idea the Greeks were not as advanced as the Chinese civilization at the time. The Chinese were a very advanced civilization and are responsible for the creation of a plethora of technologically advanced tools and resources. A few advances include, ink, porcelain, irrigation systems and immunization techniques. During the time period in which these developments were made there appears to be no evidence of any technological contributions made by the Greeks. Not emphasizing a personal gain attitude the Chinese seem to have been more successful than a society who was looking to advance themselves as individuals and not work as a whole. During my time as an under graduate student in New York City, I was immersed in a melting pot of cultures. The school I attended ranged from Polish, Russian, Korean and Japanese students. The Japanese and Korean students were socially different than the American students. For example a student’s name was Sungkwon Ha and chose an American name such as Tony so that American students and teachers could pronounce it easier and that they would blend in more. When the students needed to speak to a professor after class they would ask permission to approach the professor if they had a question or were going to engage in leisurely conversation. When the instructor gave them permission and asked them to sit, the Japanese students would bow and then take a seat. After class one day I had asked the student why he bowed at our instructor. The student had explained that is seen as a great respect to be an educator and that he must show his respect before conversing with the teacher Differences between the two nations in Philosophy can also be found. Adversely Chinese Philosophy is based on Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism which has the central theme of harmony. A particular symbol that embodies the Philosophy of an Easterner is the Yin and Yang Taoist Symbol. A circle with an “S” shape dividing the color black and white that has two small circles of the opposing color in each. The Yin and Yang represent balance between relationships. For example, Good cannot be with bad and happy cannot thrive with sad. Confucianism stress a simplistic life filled with education. This central idea of harmony and working as whole as opposed to individual parts can be seen throughout the culture over the history of time. Greek Philosophy did not rely on the senses but heavily relied on logical reasoning. “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 nature of the object.”(9, Nisbett) The Greeks were viewed as individuals with their own ideas and ideals unlike the Chinese. The Greeks were not a unified nation with the same thoughts but a nation of dissimilar individuals working toward personal success. The idea that one’s geographic location can shape beliefs’ and ideals can be seen when comparing the two nations. Greece, which has land that borders the Ionia, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas had...
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