Knowledge Science 4

‘The Geography of Thought’ is a very readable and thought provoking book by Richard Nisbett. The most compelling message that one gets is that the way thought processes evolved in west and east (mostly Chinese) are not just different; they are kind of opposite of each other. Western thought focused on reduction of the environment to objects and their attributes; eastern thought focused on relationships and events. Focus on reductionism resulted in development of strong logical and mathematical traditions that lead to current scientific traditions. But this happened at the cost of decontextualization and deemphasizing data leading to simplification of the world to what can be analyzed rather than what it is. East emphasizes context and experience resulting in whole rather than parts.

Clearly, there are times when one needs to understand objects while in other situations one must consider relations and events. The world is neither objects only not relations or events only. World is also not objects primary and events secondary; or events primary and objects secondary. It may be best to understand when objects should be primary and when events should be primary. Understanding of their strengths and limitations is the key to the future of knowledge.

In any case, The Geography of Thought is a book that everybody who cares to understand knowledge will find enjoyable.

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