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Eastern vs Western scientific thought (Read 4418 times)
freediver
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Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Jul 1st, 2014 at 4:42am
 
In "Why the West Rules - For Now, The patterns of history and what they reveal about the future", Ian Morris Argues that rather than new ways of thinking driving social changes throughout history, thought largely reflects the needs of society at the time. He highlights similarities in western and eastern thought, and that similar ideas arose at similar stages of social development, reflecting the needs of civilisation at the time. This includes religion, and the renaissance.

One key exception is the rise of scientific thought. China actually began industrialising earlier than Europe and started making heavy use of fossil fuels. They went through a renaissance of sorts at around the same time, driven by the increase in wealth. However they did not progress onto a "mechanical" model of the universe - that is, a world driven by laws of nature rather than unpredictable spiritual forces. Similar concepts did arise, but did not become popular.

In chapter 11, "Not why the west rules", p569, he points out:

When psychologists strap people into functional magnetic resonance imaging machines and ask them to solve problems, these scholars point out, the frontal and parietal areas in Western subjects' brains light up more (indicating that they are working harder to maintain attention) [ie, having more difficiulty with the question] if the question requires placing information within a broad context than if it calls for isolating facts from their background and treating them independently. For easterners the reverse is true.

Morris attributes the cause of this (unconvincingly, IMO) to the atlantic economy that arose around 1600 and the new problems this created for them. Scientific models of reality solved these problems best, became embedded in western education to the point where they became the default mode of thought. In the east, this process started later and thus has not progressed as far.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect

The Flynn effect is the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.

Morris goes on to speculate that had the east not been incorporated into the western economic sphere, they would be independently going through there own industrial revolution about now. Scientific thought would have presumably been part of this.
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JC Denton
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #1 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 7:54am
 
iq differences across generations dont necessarily reflect actual differences in intellectual ability - the devil is in the details
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #2 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 8:55am
 
JC Denton wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 7:54am:
iq differences across generations dont necessarily reflect actual differences in intellectual ability - the devil is in the details


Well not directly, no. IQ score have been rising but it's not due to people getting more intelligent - but that society requires more abstract thinking than in the past.
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #3 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 10:32am
 
FD, what does Morris mean exactly by "the east"? Is it just China and her satelites? Or does it include, say, India and the middle east - and even Russia?
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #4 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 10:56am
 
Such studies and their conclusions are basically the modern equivalent of Phrenology, and about as meaningful!

http://www.skepdic.com/phren.html

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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #5 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:03am
 
Gandalf:

Russia is the west. China is the east. India is a different "core".

The definitions centre on the original "cores" in which the first agricultural societies developed. Globally, there were about 7 of these, but only two were "significant" in the sense that they started early (in the middle east - the original western core - about 12000 years ago) and grew into powerful civilisations prior to globalisation. The definitions follow fairly fluidly the various societies and civilisations that arose from these, as agriculture and then various city and empire building societies spread out.

As I hinted in the original post, the meaning is becoming irrelevant today.

Not sure what you mean by satellites. When he speculated on what might have happened in the east without western interference, he pointed to south east asia as likely peripheries that may have been involved in an industrial revolution, either as trading partners (similar to the Americas in economic significance) or as a new centre for the core. There is discussion of Japan and Korea as separate entities (part of the east). For example, the author attributes Japan's ability to demilitarise as being permitted by China's inward focus at the time.

Morris likes to start at the beginning, going into the genetic and archeological evidence about the various pre-modern human species (see my thread about new evidence on neanderthal DNA in modern humans outside of Africa), however his definition of east and west did not take shape until settlement and farming.

austranger wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 10:56am:
Such studies and their conclusions are basically the modern equivalent of Phrenology, and about as meaningful!

http://www.skepdic.com/phren.html



Are you saying that the FMRI results are imaginary, or meaningless? Or do you simply want it to be wrong because you don't like the implications?
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #6 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:33am
 
freediver wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:03am:
Gandalf:

Russia is the west. China is the east. India is a different "core".

The definitions centre on the original "cores" in which the first agricultural societies developed. Globally, there were about 7 of these, but only two were "significant" in the sense that they started early (in the middle east - the original western core - about 12000 years ago) and grew into powerful civilisations prior to globalisation. The definitions follow fairly fluidly the various societies and civilisations that arose from these, as agriculture and then various city and empire building societies spread out.

As I hinted in the original post, the meaning is becoming irrelevant today.

Not sure what you mean by satellites. When he speculated on what might have happened in the east without western interference, he pointed to south east asia as likely peripheries that may have been involved in an industrial revolution, either as trading partners (similar to the Americas in economic significance) or as a new centre for the core. There is discussion of Japan and Korea as separate entities (part of the east). For example, the author attributes Japan's ability to demilitarise as being permitted by China's inward focus at the time.

Morris likes to start at the beginning, going into the genetic and archeological evidence about the various pre-modern human species (see my thread about new evidence on neanderthal DNA in modern humans outside of Africa), however his definition of east and west did not take shape until settlement and farming.

austranger wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 10:56am:
Such studies and their conclusions are basically the modern equivalent of Phrenology, and about as meaningful!

http://www.skepdic.com/phren.html



Are you saying that the FMRI results are imaginary, or meaningless? Or do you simply want it to be wrong because you don't like the implications?


Studying the electrical activity of the brain is exactly the same as studying the lumps on the skull, IMO.
You can see the movement of electrical currents in the brain with FRMI, but to draw any intellectual conclusions from it is as sensible as phrenological conclusions, it's NOT mind-reading, it DOESN'T show what or how that electrical movement is doing to the thought processes involved.
Just because I can see colours and hold a brush doesn't mean I'm a great artist does it?
Same principle involved.
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #7 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:47am
 
It's pretty standard.

http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/01/16/scan.nss136.full

Being able to think up a similar sounding method from the past that turned out to be bogus is not really evidence of anything beyond your ability at word association games. Claiming it is "exactly" the same is kind of ironic, given the context.
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #8 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 3:35pm
 
Kytro wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 8:55am:
JC Denton wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 7:54am:
iq differences across generations dont necessarily reflect actual differences in intellectual ability - the devil is in the details


Well not directly, no. IQ score have been rising but it's not due to people getting more intelligent - but that society requires more abstract thinking than in the past.


not really sure how that conclusion was drawn - what i meant was that the flynn effect gains probably don't actually translate into any real life performance improvement on intellectual tasks because the gains are only reflecting an improvement on performance on iq tests rather than the underlying traits that iq tests are designed to measure. latent intellectual ability is not tracting the improvements in test taking ability.
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« Last Edit: Jul 1st, 2014 at 3:49pm by JC Denton »  
 
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #9 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 3:42pm
 
We are all blessed on the forum with the presence of Hotbreath with a genius level IQ of 178.
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #10 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 3:54pm
 
freediver wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:47am:
It's pretty standard.

http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2013/01/16/scan.nss136.full

Being able to think up a similar sounding method from the past that turned out to be bogus is not really evidence of anything beyond your ability at word association games. Claiming it is "exactly" the same is kind of ironic, given the context.


I see you didn't actually read that link, whereas I did, it has little to do with your post nor does it refute my point, it's about the effort, eg, the amount of brain activity, nothing is said about what thoughts are involved nor about what results are achieved by that thought process.

"Conclusion
The goal of this study was to investigate the neural correlates of mental effort evaluation. By employing the specific contrast between the objective evaluation of task difficulty and the subjective evaluation of mental effort, we were able to identify a number of brain areas that partake stronger in this process. The relation of mental effort evaluation with somatic awareness had been proposed earlier on the basis of the observations in patient RMB (Naccache et al., 2005). These findings, together with the theoretical implications of the integrated model of mental effort regarding integration and awareness, made an involvement of the aIC plausible. Our results support the view that the aIC unifies two important capabilities necessary for mental effort evaluation. This, together with the stronger activation in the left thalamus, demonstrates the importance of somatic information for the emotionally salient awareness and evaluation of the self.

The relation between the RSME scores and the activation in left aIC during task performance suggests further research in this direction. Future studies could investigate the effect of various manipulations of mental workload on this area, which would solve the question if the apparent similarity originates in changes of task load or total perceived mental workload. Manipulating the state load, a variable which remained constant in the present study, could help to attribute these effects. "
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #11 - Jul 1st, 2014 at 11:17pm
 
Quote:
not really sure how that conclusion was drawn - what i meant was that the flynn effect gains probably don't actually translate into any real life performance improvement on intellectual tasks because the gains are only reflecting an improvement on performance on iq tests rather than the underlying traits that iq tests are designed to measure. latent intellectual ability is not tracting the improvements in test taking ability.


It does reflect a better education and better technical competence, just not a genetic level change. That's why you get your kids to program the VCR machine for you. They understand modern technology better. They are raised in a different world.

Quote:
I see you didn't actually read that link, whereas I did, it has little to do with your post nor does it refute my point, it's about the effort, eg, the amount of brain activity


From the opening post:

the frontal and parietal areas in Western subjects' brains light up more (indicating that they are working harder to maintain attention)
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #12 - Jul 2nd, 2014 at 12:59am
 
Food for thought!

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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #13 - Jul 2nd, 2014 at 9:46am
 
Quote:
It does reflect a better education and better technical competence, just not a genetic level change. That's why you get your kids to program the VCR machine for you. They understand modern technology better. They are raised in a different world.


i think it just reflects an increasing familiarity with standardized tests. people do a lot more tests these days than they used to. certain that the improvement on iq tests has been on the parts of the tests that measure non-generalized mental abilities.
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Re: Eastern vs Western scientific thought
Reply #14 - Jul 2nd, 2014 at 9:58am
 
austranger wrote on Jul 1st, 2014 at 3:54pm:
blah blah blah brain activity blah blah blah



Does your "study" take into account the variety, quantity, and personal net worth of intellectual stimulation, i.e. free ideas and free thought?  No?  Then it's smacking wrong.

You've now caught on to what has led to the disparity between Western and Eastern scientific thought. It's a long scale version of why the West won vs Communism.  These things are fairly evident to anyone that pulled their heads from their asses, took an Econ 101 and History 102 course at uni.

What's your excuse?
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