Analysis Of Richard Nisbett's The Geography Of Thought

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George Orwell, a masterful orator, supplies an interesting quote that can be interpreted as the informal prompt that inspired The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why. Richard Nisbett’s psychological and philosophical analysis in The Geography of Thought, is Nisbett’s way of “pushing the world in a certain direction” as he examines the pros and cons, of two very different societies: Asian and Western. Nisbett’s purpose is to examine why the world behaves as such and how different outlooks on life can skew an entire society. Nisbett uses comparison and contrast, studies and statistics, and exemplification, to explain how and why the world’s communities conduct themselves in specific manners.
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Two examples of exemplification stand out in Nisbett’s writing as being completely relatable, prompting a higher understanding of the topic. The first is an old Chinese story that follows an old man’s circuitous tale of misfortune and fortune that goes on “as long as the patience of the audience permits” (13). Despite the initial perceived frivolousness and randomness of such a tale, the old man’s story is connected to Nibett’s purpose as it demonstrates the Asian fundamental belief towards life. Asians see that the world is “full of contradictions”(13), a shock to the black and white, yes or no Western outlook. Another example details the dangers of miscommunication, specifically citing the different language practices used when drinking tea. The Chinese ask “Drink more?”(158) and in English, one says “More tea?” (158), when two Asians or two Westerners communicate as such, it is “perfectly obvious”(159) what they mean. But when an Asian and a Westerner attempt to share a cup of tea, general confusion would ensue. This specific example is used with tea but it can be applied to any of the Chinese or English euphemisms that cause confusion when used in the opposite culture. In using these examples to support his point, Nisbett is showing how the differences between Asia and the West and help these different cultures reconcile and understand each

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