East and West

A crash-course in Nisbett at Business Insider:

According to cultural philosophers, Westerners and East Asians have had contrasting views about the concept of truth and how it works for thousands of years — and it shows up in present-day psychology.
It all goes back to the cradles of two civilizations: ancient Greece and ancient China.
It comes down to two different “laws”:
• The Greeks followed the “law of the excluded middle,” which states that if two people are debating, then one of them must be exclusively right and the other exclusively wrong.
• The Chinese followed the “doctrine of mean,” which states that if two people are debating, then they’re probably both partly right and partly wrong — the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
These things have deep roots. …

Poke at the argument just a little, and it goes excitedly recursive.

2 thoughts on “East and West

  1. Curiously, both views are subject to being questioned on their own terms, or in their own turf, as it were.

    If the “law of the excluded middle” is true (only one of these views is right), then, in logical terms, it cannot be the Eastern view, since it is not compatible with its truth.

    But if the “doctrine of mean” is true, then, both views are partly right and partly wrong, which paradoxically means that the truth is located closer to the Greek truth than the Chinese one. This happens because if the statement “both are partially right and partially wrong” is itself partially right and partially wrong, then, its truth is subject to an infinite revision, which incrementally brings the mean closer to the Greek view. This can be envisioned through a simple line between the points A (the doctrine of mean); and B (the law of excluded middle), where A1, A2, A3… A(n) is the mean, situated in the middle


    where A1 supplants A as the point of truth moving towards B:


    In the second schema, A1 is no longer the mean, but “the doctrine of mean revised.” Simply put, if A states that both A and B are partly true and partly right, and B states that only one is right, then, B is more right than A. Hence:


    Obviously, even though logicians would perhaps view this as proof of the triumph of Western reason, it only shows that logic was a side effect of Greek reason, and it no doubt sides with its master in such analyses. On the other hand, the Chinese reasoning does not seem to have a defense against the Greek, and is promptly hijacked as soon as it encounters it, hence, it too is inherently problematic. What it needs is a viral capacity that can invade the Greek reason once it has thus been hijacked and carried home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GB: the viral capacity is there actually, and it seems that without noticing you have described it. In biochemical terms the simple schema you have drawn here, is reminiscent of HGT (horizontal gene transfer). That is, “A” approximates “B,” but not for that reason is assimilated by “B”. Or rather the assimilation occurs only on the surface (expressed outwardly: the phenotype). Internally however (the genotype), the script or RNA of “B” undergoes some revision. This can be inferred from the fact that “B” in its pure quality is unapproachable, it does not permit proximity and therefore any negotiation with its opposite. “A” therefore, is able to approach it precisely because it can renegotiate itself to resemble the “B” phenotype. The textual character (of A[b]), then, becomes sort of a palimpsest, you can always dig deeper. Perhaps that was what spiralpress had in mind when writing, “Poke at the argument just a little, and it goes excitedly recursive.”


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