The Geography of Thought by Richard Nisbett: Book Analysis

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In his book The Geography of Thought, Richard Nisbett examines how the cognitive processes of eastern and western cultures organize knowledge to make sense of the world. By east the author usually means Far East Asian cultures such as Japan, China, and Korea. By west he means most of Europe and America. This is an important topic as cultural diversity continues to become a critical part of business and life around the world. Nisbett states that Westerners are more object-based thinkers, while Eastern thinking is based more on context and relationships. The book helps us understand how and why Westerners and Easterners have developed these different ways of thinking based on social, cultural, religious, geographical and other factors. It also shows how these cultures are in the process of being integrated together. Nisbett classifies Asian cultures as the countries of the Far East such as Korea, Japan, China, and countries that have been influenced by Taoist, Confucian, and Buddhist teachings. I would agree with this classification because he is pretty much referring to the main East Asian countries with ancient Chinese origins. These countries also have similar characteristics on Hofstede's cultural dimensions, with high power distance, masculinity, and long-term orientation but low individual values and uncertainty avoidance. These countries are all similar in their thought processes as they are all collectivist societies. Throughout the years, Westerners and Easterners have differed in their thinking processes, which have affected the way they behave and expressed themselves. These differing thought processes developed over time from ancient Western (Greek) philosophy's influence on Western society, and ancient Eastern (Chinese) philosophy's influence on Eastern society. Westerners are more likely to use formal logic when trying to make sense of things, meaning if there are two contradictory statements, one must be right and one must be wrong....
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