East versus West


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East versus West

So...I've been discussing Ancient eastern culture a lot in my world civ class, and it got me thinking about the fundamental differences between myself and say...a muslim from india. What do you guys think are the fundamental differences between us and them(using general stereotypes, of course), and where do those differences stem from?

Raistlin Majere

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I think some of it is the enviorments. We normally are from a temperate forest area, whereas they are fro a dry desert.

Ash Housewares

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Johnny said:
Isnt the religion in India Hindu?
Hindu is one of several religions in India including Buddhism & Islam among others

but if you're trying to come up with general stereotypes, good job? I don't really understand this thread


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Ash Housewares said:
Hindu is one of several religions in India including Buddhism & Islam among others

but if you're trying to come up with general stereotypes, good job? I don't really understand this thread
Neither do I. :confused:


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I used the word stereotype to denote that we would be talking in generalities, because it would be so closed-minded to think that there are the same differences between someone from an Eastern culture and someone from a Western.


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most Indians are not Muslim, only a very few are proportionally. Most Muslims are from Indonesia, the Middle East, & Northern/Eastern Africa,


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Actually, the point of splitting up India and Pakistan upon their independence from Great Britain was to leave India to the Hindus and give Muslims a "homeland" in Pakistan. That doesn't mean that there aren't members of each religion in the opposite country, just that the majority of people in India are Hindu and the majority of people in Pakistan are Muslim. Buddhism is also present in India, but only accounts for about 5% of the population.

As for the general question, I know too much about Eastern civilization to go into stereotypes. That's not meant to sound holier than thou (although I realize now that it does), I only mean that I think it's impossible to say that there is one entity that is "The East" just like it's impossible to talk about the West as one country. Any stereotypes that you took from that would be not terribly useful and doomed to exception.


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One thing that is interesting to me comparing cultures is the concepts/words/ideas that cannot be expressed in each language.

For example, think of the Japanese and romantic "love." Americans think love is a fundamental human emotion, but it really has no place in Japanese thought/language. Or at least it didn't until recently.



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Well, not really ancient, but this is what I've read recently:

Samuel Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

West is declining, Islam and China are increasing

2 major parts of a civilization = religion and language (both different between West and Islam)

US, Europe = Western = Davos culture = value individualism, market economy, speak English, democracy, separate religion and government, loyalty to nation (vs tribes &/or religion)

Islam view = superior culture, inferior power
West view = superior culture, superior (but declining) power

Islam & Christianity = monotheistic (don't assimilate other religions well), see world as dualistic (us vs them), teleological, universalistic (we're right, they're wrong), obligation to convert nonbelievers (jihads and crusades)

westernization != modernization (can modernize without becoming western)

Bernard Lewis' What Went Wrong? : The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East

West succeeded, Islam failed

religion and politics closer in Islam

Islam was aloof from past successes -> inward looking -> failure to adapt successful practices of other countries -> failure to modernize

westernization = modernization, Islam rejects westernization & therefore modernization

Muslims must stop blaming external events/actors for their problems and focus on fixing them instead

Richard Bulliet's The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization

both Huntington and Lewis are wrong; Islam and Christianity can get along

Islam not inherently church + state, anti-democracy, etc and will become more Western

all of the current problems between Islam and Christianity were present between Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism in the past and were resolved; they will be resolved between Islam and Christianity, too
dirkdig said:
most Indians are not Muslim, only a very few are proportionally. Most Muslims are from Indonesia, the Middle East, & Northern/Eastern Africa,
Low proportions of muslims in India and "most muslims" are two entirely different stories. Muslims make up about 12% of India's population, which at about 1,065,000,000 comes to around 127,800,000 muslims. That means, for example, that there are about 100,000,000 more muslims in India than there are total people in Saudi Arabia. Indonesia's the only country I can think of off the top of my head that has more muslims than India.


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That you speak of ratios, population, and non-Christian religions means that you hate America.


Flawed (yet hilarous) reasoning
That one never fails to crack me up. *wraps himself in the Palestinian flag*

That you speak of me hating America means that... oh, crap. I guess it means I really do hate America.


India is the East is it not? The Middle East is different... and that would be where more deserts are.

Indo-China (as a region) has a lot more rivers it seems...
You guys are really coming up with some good differences in personality and culture between easterners and westerners.

Guy 1: Deserts.
Guy 2: Rivers!
Guy 4: I love lamp!

Let's keep the creative juices flowing!


Seems pretty simple to me. When you think of a "Westerner" what do you think of? Compare that with what you think of when you think "Asian".

Now I'm sure that everyone in India is an individual (although even if you're a one in a million type of guy: there's still 1000 people just like you) there's certain characteristics that most would have in common.


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Ah. Well, in that case . . . *breaks out his broad brush*

I think the primary difference is in how the cultures treat the individual. In Asian (and here I refer primarily to China, Japan, and other Eastern nations, and not so much what we would term the Middle East) cultures, the individual is unimportant when compared to the whole. The society is much more important, and the cultures tend to discourage going against the grain. As a result, advances in individual stature are generally based upon seniority, as opposed to merit.

In the Western nations, we tend to respect and revere those who are willing to stand up, whereas in the East we would expect him or her to be ignored or treated with disdain. I think that this is one of the primary differences, and from it stem many others.


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Plasmo provided an interesting reading list. I would add Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond as an interesting book exploring how different civilizations developed as they did. Catastrophe by David Keys is another good read that looks at a massive global disaster about 1,600 years ago and the effects it had on civilizations around the world, many of which have lasted into the present day (the effects as well as some of the civilizations).