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Culture is an important part in people's lives because it provides the messages that tend to shape their perceptions, judgments, attributions and various ideas of self and other. The various cultural groups may share ethnicity, race or nationality but they may also emerge from social economic class, sexual orientation, religious and political affiliations, gender, generation cleavages and language among others. These cultures are always subjected to changes in order to fit the various symbolic life dimensions which are the places where people make meaning and enact their identities. The differences in culture among groups and people arise because of the influences that they have been subjected to. The cultural moral dimensions include the ethical frameworks, laws and values that underlie the culture and they stem from religious roots of people and groups. There is also the explanatory dimension which incorporates the culture's world views on the phenomenal and physical world. Finally, the cultural aesthetic dimension includes art, language, dance, literature, cuisine, festivals, music, etc and they give enrichment, enjoyment and color to various individuals and groups. In this paper, I propose to analyze the topic of cultural differences between the East and the West from different perspectives which makes clear distinctions between explanatory expressions, aesthetic, and morals in the categorization of civilizations and cultures.
Culture difference between east and west
In the understanding of the psychological differences across the east and west cultures, it is necessary to consider how people regard themselves. This focuses on the difference between the eastern way of looking at the self and the western way of looking at the self. The cultural differences between the west and east are not merely a matter of collectivism versus individualism, but the cognitive dimensions and complex social dimensions that underlies the concept variations of the self go deeper to different basic views of reality. In the West, the concept of self takes the various western psychology forms but it involves the dimension of "thingness". Whereas the radical behaviorism regards the inner person notion, many personality theories in the West have reinforced its existence. On the other hand, the Buddhism psychology rejects an inner self notion and supports a different view where some deeds exist without a doer.
The inner self notion in the western has its origin in the Judeo-Christian tradition soul and it was derived from the writings of Philo who was a Jewish theologian and Plotinus who was a pagan neo-Platonic philosopher. In the year 140, Sigmund Freud gave a complex model of the inner self in his analysis of the human personality into superego and ego which then became a significant distinguishing feature of the psychoanalytic theory (Keith, D. K, 2010). On the other hand, the eastern self conceptions were mostly derived from Hinduism and they centered on the atman's Vedic notion. These conceptions are similar to the western ideas of self but the Buddhist psychology in the west gives a radically different interpretation. The Buddhist notions of the self are based on the Siddhartha Gautama's teachings after his experience of the enlightement over 2500 under the tree referred to as Bodhi (Keith, D. K, 2010).
Another cultural difference between the western and eastern is the interpretation of honesty. Among the western people, truth is very important and real even if it is not always adhered to. In contrast, truth in the eastern culture is a thing that is searched for and it is sometimes considered to be irrelevant. For example, the western people accept the fact that there are different opinions but they consider facts as facts even if they are in serious disagreements as to what these facts are (RETIREASIA).
The differences in culture between the west and the east are also depicted in their customs, their way of thinking and values and in the language and non-language behaviors. These customs involves the people's social activities. The Chinese people have much care of their face in their daily lives and daily work. They care about their images in the other people's eyes and they are always afraid of being laughed at, misunderstood and discussed by other people. On the other hand, the Western people for example the Americans puts more emphasis on practical and they don't consider what other people say or think about them. They also don't ask about other people's earnings, age and marriage which they perceive as invading other people's privacy during association with them. The American people prefer expressing their ideas directly while the Chinese tends to be tactful in expressing their ideas. Regarding the language and non-language behaviors, the Chinese people happen to be people who are particular about etiquette since ancient times. Considering the Americans and Chinese for example when analyzing other's praise, the Chinese people tend to use self-depreciatory expressions to display their modest. They are always sure in using appellations in their conversations. Centrally to the Chinese, the Americans stress on equality. For example, the younger Americans are allowed to call the elders directly by her or his name. In praising others, the Americans readily accept it and they are always grateful (Lee, K).
The west and east have differences in values which lie in the opposite of individualism and collectivism. The basis of the values of the eastern people is collectivism which is characterized by the harmonious relationship between the people as the society's foundation. For instance, the Chinese people always hold views of peacefulness are rewarded and pay a special attention to various designated people or group's values or interests. On the hand, the core of the western cultural values is the individualism which implies that an individual is very important and its main content is to have believes in individual's values and pay emphasize on the individual self control, self development and pay much importance to the self esteem. In regards to the ways of thinking, the differences are embodied in the opposite of the individual thinking and overall thinking. For instance, the Chinese culture puts more emphasis on the overall thinking which involves the thinking and observing things that exists in the world in an overall view, analyzing the problems from the whole part, attaching importance to the overall functions and the operating processes of the overall things. On the centrally, the Americans emphasizes on the individual thinking whereby the complex thinngs are split into simple essential factors and then studied one at a time (Lee, K).
The symbolism which involves how people regard or imagine something contributes to the differences in culture between the west and east. People often give various meanings to color because they posses different feelings when they come across different colors. Therefore, people have different preferences when they choose the colors of their decorations, clothes, etc. During the APEC meeting that was held in Shanghai China, many photos were taken. In the last day of the meeting, all the presidents present wore the traditional Chinese suits referred to as Dang and a photo was taken. The photo turned to be interesting because most eastern presidents were in red suits while the western presidents were in blue. The red color has different meanings in east and west.
For instance, it symbolizes fortune or luck in eastern and it is used in making festival decorations. On the other hand, the red color symbolizes blood in the west and that is why the western presidents in the meeting avoided the red color. More interestingly, the eastern people imagine the dragons as creatures like snakes that flow in the sky. These dragons are believed to have faces that resemble the horses', the ears that resemble the ox's, the bodies that resemble the snakes' and the eagle like claws. The eastern people regard a dragon as God and regard themselves as the dragons off springs. On the other hand, the people in the western perceive the dragons as dinosaurs which can stand on the ground using their legs and fly using very large wings. They are perceived to lay eggs as the dinosaurs and with the ability of erupting fire which can destroy everything implying that the dragons are dangerous creatures which cannot be welcome by the western people. These people often refer to it as a devil (Zhirenchong).
The way people eat brings about cultural differences. In the east, people use chopsticks and sometimes directly grasp the food using their hands. They hold their food using long chopsticks and cut it using their teeth instead of using knives. They also hold up their bowls with hands when having soup or food. These habits are considered incorrect by the western people. For instance, the western people use plates, bowls and tables when eating. They cut their food using spoons and knives. They do not prefer their mouth touching the mouths as the eastern people do (Zhirenchong).
Effect of the differences
The differences in the culture between the east and west basically affect the individual's very sense of selfhood and they have a wide range of implications for the ways people thinks and perceives about themselves and others. They also have implications on the way people react to others and their responses towards various social situations (Kunda, Z, 2009).
In conclusion, it is necessary to consider how people regard themselves in order to understand the psychological differences across the east and west cultures. This focuses on the difference between the eastern and western way of looking at the self. Among others, eating habits, dressing choices, language and customs have been found to influence the differences in culture between the west and east.