If one wishes to discern meanings in Chinese discourse, one must often look to the silences, the hesitations, the circumlocutions, diversions, and euphemisms. Here is the great difference between Western thinking and Eastern thinking. But, hopefully through this article, you can understand how and why Chinese thought has developed and can appreciate some of its benefits. Sentence-making and thought patterns: Probe into the differences between English and Chinese 56 thought patterns. These concepts are a running thread through many eastern and western cultural differences. Chinese philosophy (Confucianism) can be summarized as: Socrates and Plato, the founders of rationalism, taught individual understanding, through rational deductive thought, as the basis for comprehending the world. Any disagreements he may have with a speaker could be brought up later in a more private forum, giving the speaker face in the process. Different goals: Capitalism means that everyone is out to earn more, but in China wealth is (more) happily or customarily shared within the (extended) family and nation, whereas in the West wealth is (more) focused towards individual and private advancement. are now driving competition and innovation in China, which often goes against the grain, and consistency is also a goal in the West, but more difficult to achieve there. Since then Buddhist rites and principles of rebirth, harmony, and repetition, and have influenced Chinese thought and culture. The flip side of this, is that help is rarely given to strangers or people without any relationship. (Analects of Confucius II, 3). Chinese civilization has often shown such polarities with the West, as though each stands at extreme ends of a global string. Different conflicts: In China, the selfishness of consumerism conflicts with an inbuilt regard for family and society. Different motives: Consumerism means that e.g. In the West, the indulgence of consumerism goes against the moral and rational virtues of simplicity and prudence, humility and frugality. Much of this comes from the Confucian system of hierarchy. (Other influences on thought may include language, climate, and genetics, but they are more speculative.). This paper presents a comparison between Chinese perspectives on systems thinking and ideas from the West, primarily the U.S. and the U.K. Differences in Eastern (Chinese) and Western thinking may stem from something as simple as where people have lived. When it comes to etiquette and ways of doing things, there are some key differences between how the Chinese operate versus how Westerners do so. In the East, harmony and conformity to society's ways (including rituals and face-saving) is preferred as a way of preserving order, while in the West legalism and pursuit of "the truth" are preferred.  =  In the Western approach to systems thinking there are similar concepts of holistic thinking, synergism, and cause and effect. In the East (China) there is an emphasis on consistency through formulas and repetition (e.g. Western thinking) is best. You rarely see beggars on the streets in Chinese communities, and those you do see are usually seen approaching foreigners, whome they are more likely to get assistance from. Differences in Eastern (Chinese) and Western thinking may stem from something as simple as where people have lived. Chinese people like to internalize, i.e. People in the East tend to look at the whole picture and all the details, whereas people in the West concentrate on the main point or goal. Chinese honor them as symbols of God. Different behavior: In China, for example, people drive cars in the way (local) society deems okay, with no guilt regarding the law. Chinese values would require the person to keep his opinions to himself in such an environments. Here are five cultural differences in thinking and perception between the East and West. While China is surrounded by huge mountain ranges, deserts, and ocean, Western (European) nations have been surrounded by relatively smaller geographical obstacles and more navigable seas. Chinese have a strong system of respect. "Eastern thought" can be represented by an 'O' (for "Our" or a ring of people linking hands). Buddhism arrived in China in the first century AD, with similar principles to Taoism. (Personal note: I have experienced this first hand, when a former girlfriend broke up with me out of the blue, when I thought all was well. The conclusion from all of this, when comparing Chinese versus their Western counterparts, is that the former are more likely to go out of their way to help friends and people in their circle of influence, whereas the latter are more likely to go out and help strangers. However, when China departed from absolute monarchy it went the route of single-party republicanism and communism, whereas the West has adopted democracy. share their thoughts. Isolated, hostile geography may have contributed to insular thinking, and accessible geography may have promoted more individual and externalized thinking. In the West people question even the highest authority figures… all the time… and often quite openly. Understanding this culture is very valuable in determining where assistance should be given to others, as well as what is expected of you if you receive it. It exists as a corollary followed from the observation of many particulars. Compared with the thinking way of the western people, the mode of thinking of Chinese people has obvious vagueness, after a long time, it forms their thinking way. In China primary reaction to personal 'bad behavior' is shame, but only if society judges the behavior as bad. CONCRETE THINKING AND ENGLISH WRITING Generally speaking, the thinking mode of westerners tends to be abstract while Chinese thinking is always concrete. A generalized summary: While Westerners were exploring the world: fighting with, trading with, living with, and conquering other nations, while at the same time letting other nations across their borders; the Chinese were consumed with controlling things within their own borders, minding their own business, developing their own culture, and keeping others out. "a straight line"). In Western society, the individual rules. Though modern China has moved past these narrowly defined roles, the Chinese today are still used to thinking … 2.Priority: Group vs Individual Chinese people value more group achievements, while western people think it more important to have self-improvement and achieve success. It is said that one's thinking patterns change depending on one's experiences. 2. Understanding this nature within Chinese people is important, since it is easy to otherwise assume that their silence indicates agreement. (See the Chinese interpretation of Christianity on Christianity in China.). Origins of Systems Thinking To put it simply, the roadmap of Western systems thinking emerged from reductionism to holism, while the Chinese roadmap emerged from holism to reductionism to dialectic unity of the two. It can be said that generally the West has a Christian moral framework. As the guest, you are allowed to sit through the entire visit without even touching the cup, since the host was just doing his duty by offering it to you, despite your personal preference to decline. Thus China has become "the factory of the world" and the West has become "the world's driving force for progress and innovation". This is because it allows us to engage in an interesting comparison. When I asked for more details, she came up with a list of issues that she had never mentioned during the relationship, all out of a desire to not induce confrontation). The Universal does not exist by itself, according to Western thinking. The short answer is it used to be a lot, and there aren’t much difference any more. In the West there is an emphasis on innovation and competition. With us you can have a tour tailor-made from your requests. Chinese vs Western Culture. Similarly, the Western tradition has certainly housed strains of thought that do view the state as more of a natural outgrowth of small human groups such as family and community. "Western thought" on the other hand can be represented by an 'I' (for "Individual" or 'the first person singular' or someone standing on their own). While in the East respect is taken for granted, in the West respect is earned, and criticism is typically direct and unveiled. During weddings and occasions where red envelopes are exchanged, the amounts of money given and the donors are duly noted since the same amount would be expected to be paid back at future events. Actions have reinforced thought patterns, and established thought has led to more of the same actions, in a chicken-and-egg scenario lasting millennia. Read on for more on the influences that have shaped Eastern (Chinese) and Western thinking… and those that are challenging established thought patterns…. It promotes holistic and accepting thought and behavior, and claims no absolute truth. Where a Chinese person does assist one of his friends (whether directly or indirectly), this assistance is noted by both sides. That is why Westerners have expressed serious curiosity about and appreciation of the philosophical endeavours of the Chinese and the cognitive … Basically there are four ancient influences (geography, history, philosophy, and religion) and three modern influences (government, capitalism, and consumerism). The differences listed below are heavily stereotyped, generalized, and polarized. While Communism is not practiced in China today, its influence lingers in education and strong one-party government control of commerce and the populace. East is east, and West is west; never the twain shall meet. We won’t go down to exhaust all possible differences, like the brand of restaurants Chinese go to .vs. This same situation can also be observed in personal relationships between a Westerner and a Chinese, where the latter’s silence on matters and propensity to not confront, could erroneously suggest to the former that all is well in the relationship, when that might not be the case. As a result, in certain circumstance, Chinese way of thinking is holistic with a “broader vision”, and western thinking is analytic with a “narrow vision”. Once again it may help to think of an 'O' representing a repetitive, cyclic, holistic, consistent approach, and an 'I' for direct, linear, focused innovative thinking, to show the sharp contrast between (stereotyped) Eastern and Western thought. with no definite end goal that can be reached. While the modern influences of capitalism and consumerism are shared the world over, established thought processes in China and the West have produced differing responses and tensions in modern society. display: none !important; Chinese thinking mode is visual, so Chinese tends to concrete in wording. Harmony is considered more important than pointing out faults, so, when a fault must be mentioned, great care is taken to avoid giving offense. More on Traffic in China>>>. At China Highlights we've adopted "Western thinking", and will do our best to accommodate your requirements. An equivalent payback of some sorts is then expected in the future. During group meetings, a Westerner is more likely to bring up arguments or disagree with the topic at hand. Christianity has been the prevalent worldview in the West (Europe) since about 300 AD. In China, many people are prepared to do things for the good of society. For Chinese there is a recurring process of improvement (i.e. Even if you politely decline, you will still be offered tea as the default. Westerners focus on getting to the end goal using the most efficient method (i.e. Taoism developed in China from the fourth century BC with principles of harmony and cyclic repetitious processes. We found Chinese Yin-Yang thinking was compatible with Western critical thinking practices but revealed an ability to develop more encompassing creative solutiuons to resolving the given paradox. In one sense, the Confucian ethic is egalitarian, though not in Western sense where everyone has equal standing and opportunity within society. Instead, there’s equality within a social rank. In the past Eastern (Chinese) and Western cultures have had very different formative influences, leading to major differences in thinking. The usual Western way is … Any deviation from these principles makes you stand out in a negative way. ZHENG (1992) said in his book A Comparative Study on Cultures in China and the West that English is a language of sound which has inflection and stress and highlights creation while Chinese is a language , In the latter world, being polite makes you stand out from the crowd. It can be explained as the classifying feeling course of distinguishing and simplifying o outside objects. Generally, Chinese motives are society-driven, and Western motives are individual-driven. © 2020 ChineseLearnOnline.com. Many things such as education, marriage, and community type can be different from what we have in our Western civilization. Some differences between Western and Chinese thought patterns are highlighted to help language teachers better prepare teaching strategies for Chinese-speaking students. Keep on questioning after you arrive in China, but in many situations it may be advisable to keep your thoughts to yourself. Democracy, in its externalized focus on the individual, transparency (the truth will out), and questioning of government, can be seen to encourage "Western thought" even more than Communism and single-party government encourages "Eastern thought". Not being up front with your opinions and ideas might be considered rude in Western culture, whereas in Chinese culture it is considered polite, since by doing so they are allowing you to save face. XHTML: You can use these tags:
, +  The main differences between the school of thought or the philosophies of the East and West are the West’s Individualism and the East’s Collectivism. Here is one of the great divides between Western and Chinese ways of thinking and writing. Thus is it safe to say that Eastern philosophy is classical Chinese, while Western philosophy is more Latin in its roots. In some cases, a third party may be used to convey negative news from one side to another, in order to avoid confrontations. You may still be thinking that your own way of thinking (i.e. Not being up front with your opinions and ideas might be considered rude in Western culture, whereas in Chinese culture it is considered polite, since by doing so they are allowing you to save face. In particular we focus on the debate between reductionism and holism which is one of the classical subjects of study in the philosophy of science. In the West the main reaction is guilt, and this is personally driven by the individual, according to what he/she thinks is wrong. Lead them with excellence and put them in their place through roles and ritual practices, and in addition to developing a sense of shame, they will order themselves harmoniously." the school system, exercises, politeness, rituals). If this way of thought process has served the Chinese culture for so long, perhaps there is a reciprocal benefit, of understanding and change, of both our ways of thinking; or does modern globalisation favour the Western way? Chinese Culture vs Western Culture Between the Chinese culture and Western culture, we can identify a number of differences. Until recent centuries, Eastern and Western nations were all governed by a single ruler (and this tended to promote "Eastern thought"). Though Christianity teaches love for all people, unity, and an acceptance of God's word, its (Protestant) interpretation in the West tends to support individual, focused, linear progress ("innovation") towards a heavenly goal, and a questioning attitude in the pursuit of truth. Chinese wear white. It is also common for people to not stop and help others during vehicle accidents, so as not to get involved with people they don’t know. In any case this ancestor veneration has again influenced thought in the direction of repetition, society, and shame. All Rights Reserved. Private space for Chinese people is in their heads; for Westerners it's in their homes (or wherever they can't be seen or heard). "things occur in cycles") with no definite end goal that can be reached. Westerners have a strong sense of what is right and wrong, and want to know what the "truth" of a situation is. Communism fits the Eastern (Chinese) thought tenets outlined above, with its emphasis on society, common ownership and production, and egalitarian conformity, encouraging cyclic repetition, and holistic, accepting, internalized thought. This is also why it is so important to keep making contacts in order to enter the circles of others. The founders of the contrasting philosophies of Confucianism and Rationalism all lived around 500 BC, but in quite different environments, as discussed above. Differences in Eastern (Chinese) and Western thinking may stem from something as simple as where people have lived. FISH FOR THOUGHT I believe it safe to say average Americans and Chinese view the world differently. Another big difference in thinking between Chinese and Western societies is … There are not many practicing Taoists or Buddhists in China today, but there are very many ancestor venerators. The key difference is that Chinese naive dialecticism does not regard contradiction as illogical and tends to accept the harmonious unity of opposites. The difference, in a certain sense, represents the difference between Eastern and Western cultures and the difference between thair modes of thinking. Differences discussed include emphasis given to bigger/smaller units, tense, direct/indirect expression, individualism, appropriate behavior, linear vs. circular thinking patterns. Others believe that ancestors not are even aware of what their descendants do for them, but the expression of filial piety is still important. They don't say "our" so much. In China, be more generous with respect and tactful with criticism. However, in China people buy cars to fit in, whereas in the West people buy cars to stand out! Understanding this nature within Chinese people is important, since it is easy to otherwise assume that their silence indicates agreement. In the East, the Universal precedes the particular, whereas in the West, the particular precedes the Universal. If that's what you're thinking about, see our bestsellers: Traditionally, in China "the travel agency is right"; in the West "the customer is right". A Christian worldview includes a belief in absolute truth: one God created us all and has standards that apply to all people, and guilt is experienced if God's standards are not met. This means people who grow up in different cultures not only think about different things but also think differently. They feel a strong sense of unity. It might surprise you how people from two different cultures can have such different thinking and attitudes! When rejecting others’ offers or requests of help, it is best to do so with a polite excuse rather than a flat out refusal, in order to maintain the dignity of the relationship. The differences between Eastern and Western thought can be clearly seen in modern society, despite globalization and unifying influences. In China people generally accept what authority figures say, and express agreement (even if they don't agree). Westerners think of dragons as monsters. Chinese Culture vs. Western and American Culture There are many different aspects on Ancient Chinese culture that differ from Western and American culture. Western dialectical thinking is fundamentally consistent with the laws of formal logic, and aggressive in the sense that contradiction requires synthesis rather than mere acceptance. Some people believe their departed ancestors need to be provided for by descendants. People of different cultures think differently and these different ways of thinking create barriers to understanding and communication. "Lead the people with administrative injunctions and put them in their place with penal law, and they will avoid punishments but will be without a sense of shame. Chinese New Year (which is coming up soon) is useful for clearing “debts” among friends in this manner. You can see this when you are offered a choice of drink before a meeting or when visiting someone’s house. Hopefully you will also be more understanding of the culture of the people of China, especially if you come to visit yourself. In the West people drive cars in the way the law and the individual deem as right, with no shame from what observers might think. 5 Cultural Differences between East and West 1. Not all Chinese (or Westerners) think this way, but these are observed tendencies. ABSTRACT VS. Western philosophy can be summarized as follows: Although all the religions/beliefs covered below have Eastern roots, Christianity (particularly Protestantism) has developed according to and reinforced "Western thinking", whereas Taoism, Buddhism, and ancestor veneration dovetail with "Eastern thinking". It takes all sorts of thinking to make the world go round, and globalization is increasingly bringing both ends of the spectrum together. fourteen When visiting China (if coming from a Western country), it will help you greatly to think about the differences between Eastern and Western thinking, in order to understand Chinese culture, and to avoid so much culture shock. Comparison between Western and Chinese Systems Approaches 4.1. They also taught segregated thinking, in terms of the body and soul, individual and society, etc. .hide-if-no-js { }. Westerners feel a strong sense of individualism. Another big difference in thinking between Chinese and Western societies is the difference between “friends” and “strangers.” Assistance between Chinese parties is only given to those in the “inner circle” which is why the concept of guanxi is so important. the west. Try out an online course to discover a new hobby, learn a new language, or even change career. The Individual. Recent years have witnessed a heated debate in the Chinese military academia about traditional strategic culture and its impact on modern military thinking. In the Chinese world, politeness is part of a basic set of principles that has to be followed by all. heavily stereotyped, generalized, and polarized. ) This article discusses the many important differences in the thinking styles between Chinese and European North Americans (Americans and Canadians of European descent), as Chinese thought processes have always been difficult to comprehend. 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