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The East-West Dichotomy:The Conceptual Contrast between Eastern and Western Cultures

    “The idea that Eastern and Western societies should do everything together because they’re exactly the same and their interests are identical is not, as some would have it, a sign of evolutionary maturity or scientific insight, but a desperate form of political manipulation, new Western imperialism, and, yes, wishful thinking. Surely our cultural differences and identities make the world more colorful.”
    Thorsten Pattberg’s East-West Dichotomy discusses the philosophical concept that two diametrically opposed hemispheres exist – East and West. As the Peking University scholar demonstrates with numerous examples, their cultures and way of thinking differ radically; one could say they are 180 degrees apart. Pattberg’s underlying argument is that because of the dichotomy Westerners, who are mostly rugged individualists, are more analytic and deductive in their thinking, while Easterners, who are more focused on the collective, favor a more intuitive, inductive, “holistic” approach to life. Moreover, he explores the origin and the future of the dichotomy, and shows how it has shaped the West’s and the East’s different attitudes towards nature, philosophy (both epistemology and ethics), as well as gender and society. Pattberg also shows his willingness to take on any potential critic of his theory in his chapter “Problems with the Dichotomy.” This book is a valuable resource for those eager to gain a better understanding of the “Western” and “Eastern” psyches and of how they both harmonize and clash.
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