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Wisdom, and Perception v. Reality

YYW
Posts: 36,382
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11/21/2015 10:00:33 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
There are huge differences between Eastern dialectics and Western logical reasoning. China, for example never really developed a tradition for logical reasoning, in contrast with the West (and specifically, for example, the ancient greeks and medieval monks) which built cultures around it. I think it would be an error to say that one is superior to the other, for the reason that the limits of one reveal the benefits of the other, and vice versa. These differences in cognitive ordering, as such, have remarkable cultural differences in terms of how people relate to the world around them. Indian culture, like the west, independently developed formal logic.

When given a set of claims, for example, Chinese students will tend to be persuaded by a less plausible claim than an equally plausible claim which contradicts it, believing that both may be true, and that the "real" truth lies between the two extremes. Western students, in the alternative, will be more likely to reject the plausible claim when it is contradicted because of their belief in the presence of the contradictory statement, and be doubtful of both claims.

Chinese culture generally emphasizes a holistic worldview, whereas Western culture (and Indian culture) tends to not be holistic. Chinese medicine tends to focus on the individual as a whole person (kind of like Western internists do, but sort of differently as well) whereas the majority of Western diagnostic methods in both medical and psychological fields tend to diagnose based on conditional probabilities (e.g. "condition 1 is associated with symptoms w, x, y, and z; therefore it is more likely than not that because patient P demonstrates w,x,y, and z, that he has condition 1."). Chinese medicine is more complicated. Western business men tend to think that a stock going up is likely to continue to go further up, whereas Chinese business men tend to believe that a stock going down is likely to turn around. Western politicians don't generally account for the possibilities of relative change when making foreign policy decisions (except Obama, who has probably the most sophisticated foreign policy platform of any president in our history) whereas Chinese politicians assume that change is imminent to the extent that some action or course of action is extreme. These are only some of the differences, and there are many more, but I think these are enough to illustrate the point.

The western sort of "schema" (this is not the technically correct use of the word, but I can't think of another word to use, so we'll have to make do) is isolated and conditional, whereas the eastern "schema" is holistic. These differences are huge, and it's one reason why Chinese students demonstrate much earlier in life a level of measurable wisdom (to the extent that wisdom is reflected by accounting for multiple possible perspectives) than, for instance, Western students do, and exhibit "wisdom" levels that are more closely parallel to much older American adults.

Logic is discrete; dialectics are holistic. That's why westerner's perception, for example, can be profoundly limited, by their failure to account for many other perspectives. Easterners, and specifically the Chinese, rarely make the kinds of errors in human relations that Americans do, in the arena of resolving conflicts. That's because whereas Westerner, when presented with mutually exclusive propositions, tend to make a choice between one or the other when asked which is more plausible. Easterners, in contrast, tend to resolve conflicts not by making a choice between mutually exclusive possibilities, but by seeking to ameliorate the tension between them. This applies as much in intellectual as interpersonal life.

This is in a profound sense why most people, from the west, are so very bad at figuring out what other people are thinking, or why they're doing what they're doing. What more likely influences other's assessments of other people's motives (at least in the West), are the evaluator's subjective reactions to the evaluee's actions. Those subjective reactions tend to be what drive, say, one persons's evaluation of another person's motives because they serve as the intellectual framework or baseline for the evaluation.

So, if a Westerner has a negative reaction to some person's actions, they are going to be much more likely to assume malicious motives on the part of the person they're evaluating. They're also going to ignore hugely important facts that likely should have had significant bearing on their evaluations, too. This is a big risk, because to the extent that you're wrong in evaluating another's actions, you could forgo trusting another person, react to another person's actions in a socially inapropriate way, or lose a friendship or alliance based on your misperception.

In the alternative, if a westerner has a positive reaction to some person's actions, they are going to be much more likely to assume good, altruistic, or other positive motives on the part of the person they're evaluating. They're going to ignore hugely important factors that should have had significant bearing on their evaluation as well, in this instance, due to the fact that they could miss massive red flags about a person's real motives. The implications here are equally risky: you could be trusting a person you perhaps should not, or worse.

These risks exist mainly because Westerners don't pay a whole lot of attention to context, or at least as much as they should... like the Chinese. The context, as such, is broader than your subjective reactions, and, in fact, wholly independent of an evaluator's subjective reactions to the context in which actions take place.

It would naturally be important, then, to take a step back when trying to figure out what's really going on, and to pay attention to what's going on around you. After all, appearance isn't always, and many times is inconsistent, with reality. That would tend to suggest that westerners should take some time to at the very least be conscious of their subjective reactions, and try to account for them when understanding another person's actions.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
Posts: 36,382
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11/21/2015 10:05:35 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
The ultimate take away here is more or less this:

If you're in a conflict with another person, try to understand it not only from their perspective, but from all possible perspectives. Try to avoid making assumptions about another person's motives based on your subjective reactions to whatever they say or do, whether that reaction is positive or negative.
Tsar of DDO
YYW
Posts: 36,382
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11/21/2015 10:06:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Even if you're not in a conflict with another person, it's a generally wise thing to do to take a step back and think about what is really going on, too.
Tsar of DDO
Geogeer
Posts: 4,285
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12/2/2015 11:23:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/21/2015 10:00:33 PM, YYW wrote:
There are huge differences between Eastern dialectics and Western logical reasoning. China, for example never really developed a tradition for logical reasoning, in contrast with the West (and specifically, for example, the ancient greeks and medieval monks) which built cultures around it. I think it would be an error to say that one is superior to the other, for the reason that the limits of one reveal the benefits of the other, and vice versa. These differences in cognitive ordering, as such, have remarkable cultural differences in terms of how people relate to the world around them. Indian culture, like the west, independently developed formal logic.

When given a set of claims, for example, Chinese students will tend to be persuaded by a less plausible claim than an equally plausible claim which contradicts it, believing that both may be true, and that the "real" truth lies between the two extremes. Western students, in the alternative, will be more likely to reject the plausible claim when it is contradicted because of their belief in the presence of the contradictory statement, and be doubtful of both claims.

Chinese culture generally emphasizes a holistic worldview, whereas Western culture (and Indian culture) tends to not be holistic. Chinese medicine tends to focus on the individual as a whole person (kind of like Western internists do, but sort of differently as well) whereas the majority of Western diagnostic methods in both medical and psychological fields tend to diagnose based on conditional probabilities (e.g. "condition 1 is associated with symptoms w, x, y, and z; therefore it is more likely than not that because patient P demonstrates w,x,y, and z, that he has condition 1."). Chinese medicine is more complicated. Western business men tend to think that a stock going up is likely to continue to go further up, whereas Chinese business men tend to believe that a stock going down is likely to turn around. Western politicians don't generally account for the possibilities of relative change when making foreign policy decisions (except Obama, who has probably the most sophisticated foreign policy platform of any president in our history) whereas Chinese politicians assume that change is imminent to the extent that some action or course of action is extreme. These are only some of the differences, and there are many more, but I think these are enough to illustrate the point.

The western sort of "schema" (this is not the technically correct use of the word, but I can't think of another word to use, so we'll have to make do) is isolated and conditional, whereas the eastern "schema" is holistic. These differences are huge, and it's one reason why Chinese students demonstrate much earlier in life a level of measurable wisdom (to the extent that wisdom is reflected by accounting for multiple possible perspectives) than, for instance, Western students do, and exhibit "wisdom" levels that are more closely parallel to much older American adults.

Logic is discrete; dialectics are holistic. That's why westerner's perception, for example, can be profoundly limited, by their failure to account for many other perspectives. Easterners, and specifically the Chinese, rarely make the kinds of errors in human relations that Americans do, in the arena of resolving conflicts. That's because whereas Westerner, when presented with mutually exclusive propositions, tend to make a choice between one or the other when asked which is more plausible. Easterners, in contrast, tend to resolve conflicts not by making a choice between mutually exclusive possibilities, but by seeking to ameliorate the tension between them. This applies as much in intellectual as interpersonal life.

This is in a profound sense why most people, from the west, are so very bad at figuring out what other people are thinking, or why they're doing what they're doing. What more likely influences other's assessments of other people's motives (at least in the West), are the evaluator's subjective reactions to the evaluee's actions. Those subjective reactions tend to be what drive, say, one persons's evaluation of another person's motives because they serve as the intellectual framework or baseline for the evaluation.

So, if a Westerner has a negative reaction to some person's actions, they are going to be much more likely to assume malicious motives on the part of the person they're evaluating. They're also going to ignore hugely important facts that likely should have had significant bearing on their evaluations, too. This is a big risk, because to the extent that you're wrong in evaluating another's actions, you could forgo trusting another person, react to another person's actions in a socially inapropriate way, or lose a friendship or alliance based on your misperception.

In the alternative, if a westerner has a positive reaction to some person's actions, they are going to be much more likely to assume good, altruistic, or other positive motives on the part of the person they're evaluating. They're going to ignore hugely important factors that should have had significant bearing on their evaluation as well, in this instance, due to the fact that they could miss massive red flags about a person's real motives. The implications here are equally risky: you could be trusting a person you perhaps should not, or worse.

These risks exist mainly because Westerners don't pay a whole lot of attention to context, or at least as much as they should... like the Chinese. The context, as such, is broader than your subjective reactions, and, in fact, wholly independent of an evaluator's subjective reactions to the context in which actions take place.

It would naturally be important, then, to take a step back when trying to figure out what's really going on, and to pay attention to what's going on around you. After all, appearance isn't always, and many times is inconsistent, with reality. That would tend to suggest that westerners should take some time to at the very least be conscious of their subjective reactions, and try to account for them when understanding another person's actions.

Yeah, I'll keep to our backwards way of thinking.

http://www.slate.com...