This book may mark the beginning of a new front in the science wars. Nisbett, an eminent psychologist and co-author of a seminal Psychological Review paper on how people talk about their decision making, reports on some of his latest work in cultural psychology. He contends that "human cognition is not everywhere the same"-that those brought up in Western and East Asian cultures think differently from one another in scientifically measurable ways. Such a contention pits his work squarely against evolutionary psychology (as articulated by Steven Pinker and others) and cognitive science, which assume all appreciable human characteristics are "hard wired." Initial chapters lay out the traditional differences between Aristotle and Confucius, and the social practices that produced (and have grown out of) these differing "homeostatic approaches" to the world: Westerners tend to inculcate individualism and choice (40 breakfast cereals at the supermarket), while East Asians are oriented toward group relations and obligations ("the tall poppy is cut down" remains a popular Chinese aphorism). Next, Nisbett presents his actual experiments and data, many of which measure reaction times in recalling previously shown objects. They seem to show East Asians (a term Nisbett uses as a catch-all for Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and others) measurably more holistic in their perceptions (taking in whole scenes rather than a few stand-out objects). Westerners, or those brought up in Northern European and Anglo-Saxon-descended cultures, have a "tunnel-vision perceptual style" that focuses much more on identifying what's prominent in certain scenes and remembering it. Writing dispassionately yet with engagement, Nisbett explains the differences as "an inevitable consequence of using different tools to understand the world." If his explanation turns out to be generally accepted, it means a big victory for memes in their struggle with genes.
From Publishers Weekly
About CCC Chinese Book Club:
The CCC Book Club is one of the earlist book clubs targeting expariates living in Beijing and the only book meeting groups focusing on China-related books for the international community.
At the CCC' s Book Club, participants are assigned a great book to read (or selected chapters) and then asked to discuss its meanings with other book club members, using their own interpretations. All assigned books (mostly China-related fiction and non-fiction, a mix of classics and modern ones in English or with English translation) are available at CCC library and bookshop or at major foreign-language book stores where participants are encouraged to purchase their own copies. You are also welcome even though you may not have read a single page of the book yet. Just join our discussion!
Booklist: Click here to view the whole booklist of the past meetings.
CCC Book Club day group:
10:30 am, every third Wednesday of the month.
CCC Book Club Evening Group:
7:30 pm, every second Thursday of the month
Note: sometimes the date is different because of holidays. So check the monthly calendar for the most up to date info during the month.
Venue: China Culture Center, Beijing, China.
- Book Club: "China’s Best Contemporary Writers"
- Book Club: "The Soong Dynasty"
- Book Club: "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
- Book Club:"The True Story of Ah Q"
- Book Club: Laozi's "Tao Te Ching"
- Book Club: "Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud"
- Book Club: "Leaving Mother Lake"
- Book Club: Ancient Chinese poems