The cyclops Polyphemus as a metaphor for Western civilization and its linear way of reasoning.
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The cyclops Polyphemus as a metaphor for Western civilization and its linear way of reasoning. by Open Source
"The Greeks only understand theories, but the Chinese are the people who own the technologies." -- Josafa Barbaro, 1474
"Only the Chinese have two eyes, all other mortals are blind." -- Christian Wolff, 1721
"The Chinese eyes, after closing for a while, are now about to open up." -- Ji Xianlin, 2006
" The Eastern civilization is static,
while the Western civilization takes initiative;
one is active, while the other is passive, so much for that.
The East harmonies with nature, the West conquers it;
The East is tranquil, the West is aggressive;
The East is introvert, the West is extrovert;
The East is dependent, the West is independent;
The East is reserved, the West is advancing;
The East is submissive, the West is creative;
The East is conservative, the West is progressive;
The East is intuition, the West is reason;
The East is spiritual, the West is empirical;
The East is humanistic, the West is scientific;
The East is mind, the West is matter;
The East is spirit, the West is substance;
The East is inductive, the West is deductive;
The East takes man and nature as inseparable parts;
the West takes man as the conqueror of nature." - Li Dazhao , 1927
According to the universal historians Arnold J. Toynbee , Samuel P. Huntington , and Ji Xianlin, the world's states form 21, 23 or 25 spheres, nine civilizations, and fall into four cultural systems: Arabic/Islam, Confucian, Hindi/Brahmin, and Western/Christian, with the former three forming the Oriental cultural system and the latter one the Occidental cultural system. The main difference between the Orient and the Occident, so people say, lies in their different mode of thinking: The East is more inductive, the West is more deductive.
Orient's search for universal formulas describing balance, harmony or
equilibrium: for example, in Chinese philosophy, the two lines in Chinese er (the character for 'two')
meaning weight and counterpoise. Similarly, we find ru-ru (the character for 'enter-enter') meaning equal weight on both sides, liang (the character for a balance)
representing scales in equilibrium (Wieger, 1965), or yin and
yang meaning two primal opposing but complementary forces. There are also
Japanese Zen and śūnyata (lit: emptiness) meaning everything is inter-related; in
By means of continuously inducing the universal, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, Hinduism and Buddhism -- as a rough guide - all ultimately arrive at the universal concept of "the One', "Oneness of heaven and men' (tian ren he yi ), the "divine law' behind the Vedas , the "merger of Brahman and atma' (Brahmatmaikyam) or "ultimate reality' (Ayam atma bhrama), the underlying inductive principle being that:
All observed things are connected, therefore all things are one.
In inductive reasoning, one induces the universal "all things are one" from the particular "all things" that are "observed". The conclusion may be sound, but cannot be certain.
The West, on the other hand, separates God and the world. After all, we are not Him, but created by Him: "Then God said, Let us make man in our image; in the image of God he created him". (Old Testament, Gen 1;31).
A ccordingly, in Western classrooms we teach an analytic "concrete reality' based on conditioned textual analysis and interpretation of the world, rather than a holistic "absolute reality'. Some examples of major works of analytical reasoning are Euclid's Elements (c. 300 BC), Kant's Copernican revolution (1787), Darwin's Theory of Evolution (1859), Einstein's Logic of continuity (1905), or Smith's The Wealth of the Nations (1776), the underlying deductive principle (as old as the Greeks themselves) being that:
All observed men are unique, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is unique.
In deductive reasoning, one deduces the particular "Socrates is unique" from universal "all men are unique", relying on the premises "Socrates is a man" and "All men are unique". The conclusion is sound and valid.
A world thus described by deductive reasoning reaches new conclusions from previously known facts ad infinitum. A world by inductive reasoning on the other hand allocates relations to recurring phenomenal patterns. We may call the former a "string of cause and effect", whereas in the latter we see a "puzzle made of its parts".
Accordingly, in the same way as some cultures hold belief in one, many, or no gods at all, they also have different ways of perceiving the world and reasoning about it: Western civilization became analysis-based while the Orient became integration-based.