In looking for the English word for Chinese dual character words (1) , Google stumbled me into this: On the dual characters of Chinese traditional thinking modes and difficulty of changing them.
I pasted the Abstract below. It speaks for itself really; no need for more of my chatter. I didn’t try to figure out how to get the rest of the article because I felt the Abstract says enough. However, if anyone finds the full article, post a link to it. (photo: self + right = nature?)
This Abstract succinctly portrays a noticeable difference in the way East and West view reality.
Also, notice all the citations these authors used in this Abstract. My word, the attention to detail it takes to be academic. The detail on one hand, the big picture on the other hand. A ‘middle way’ compromise approach is the only way to make the best of both worlds, for me anyway. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the academics.
Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction
by Kaiping Peng, Richard E. Nisbett – American Psychologist , 1999
Chinese ways of dealing with seeming contradictions result in a dialectical or compromise approach—retaining basic elements of opposing perspectives by seeking a “middle way.” European-American ways, on the other hand, deriving from a lay version of Aristotelian logic, result in a differentiation model that polarizes contradictory perspectives in an effort to determine which fact or position is correct. Empirical studies showed that dialectical thinking is a form of folk wisdom in Chinese culture: Chinese preferred dialectical proverbs containing seeming contradictions more than did Americans. Chinese were also found to prefer dialectical resolutions to social conflicts, and to prefer dialectical arguments over classical Western logical arguments.
Furthermore, when two apparently contradictory propositions were presented, Americans polarized their views and Chinese were moderately accepting of both propositions. Origins of these cultural differences and their implications for human reasoning in general are discussed.
Consider the following statements about recent scientific discoveries: Statement A. Two mathematicians have discovered that the activities of a butterfly in Beijing, China, noticeably affect the temperature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Statement B. Two meteorologists have found that the activities of a local butterfly in the San Francisco Bay Area have nothing to do with temperature changes in the same San Francisco Bay Area. What would be your intuitive reaction to these statements? Do you see an implicit contradiction between the two pieces of information? What strategy would you use to deal with such contradictions? What is the rationale for using such a strategy? Does your cultural background affect your reasoning and judgments about contradiction…
(1) The Chinese language uses dual characters extensively. Spoken Chinese is monosyllabic, reflecting the fundamental nature of the character, which encapsulates a related range of ideas. Combining two characters produces something like our polysyllabic word ‘international’. Here are a few examples:
guójì (国际) international.
guó (国): country; state; nation; of the state; national; of our country; Chinese; a surname.
jì (际): border; boundary; edge; between; among; inter-; inside; occasion; time.
ziran (自然): natural world; nature; naturally; in the ordinary course of events; of course; naturally
zi (自): self; oneself; one’s own; certainly; of course; from; since
ran (然): right; correct; so; like that.
tiānxià (天下): land under heaven – the world or China.
tiān (天): sky; heaven; overhead; day; a period of time in a day; season; weather; nature; God; Heaven
xià (下): below; down; under; underneath; lower; inferior; next; latter; second; downward; descend.