The Geography of Thought

by Richard E. Nisbett

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 290

1) "The cognitive orientations and skills of East Asians and people of European cultures are sufficiently different that it seems highly likely that they would complement and enrich one another in any given setting."

This quote, in essence, summarizes The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently . . . And Why by Richard E. Nisbett. This attests to the value of setting aside cultural differences in order to form productive and mutually beneficial international relationships.

2) "More than a billion people in the world today claim intellectual inheritance from ancient Greece. More than two billion are the heirs of ancient Chinese traditions of thought."

Western culture boasts inspiration from the societies of ancient Greece, while eastern culture takes pride in its mirroring of ancient Chinese societies. Both ancient kingdoms made immense contributions to modern humanity. Instead of arguing over which is better, all should admire the power of both.

3) "‎The Chinese believe in constant change, but with things always moving back to some prior state. 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. Westerners live in a simpler, more deterministic world; they focus on salient 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."

This statement from Nisbett summarizes the difference in thought patterns between Eastern and Western peoples. Eastern people are more attuned with the way the world is and wish to mold themselves to work in harmony with it. Western people believe in their ability to influence the world by understanding its rules of behavior, wanting, instead, to mold the world to their needs.

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