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The reason why the East fell behind the West

  1. Jul 24, 2010 #1
    The main reason why East Asia did not modernize before Europe is this. East Asians are holistic, they see the whole before the individual elements constituting it and we believed that the whole was more important than the individual. This led to the following belief that continuous scientific and technological advancement was superficial, and science should be used to serve the whole, thus the society and the Cosmos—balance with the nature and human society, etc. Moreover, this disemphasis of the individual led to material frugality which hindered the development of capitalism, and without capitalism there cannot be modern science.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 24, 2010 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The video isn't in English, nor does it have subtitles.

    Please explain what the video is saying (the overall message is fine, no need to do a complete translation) and then present your discussion.

    It looks interesting, but if we all start guessing, we cannot have a fruitful discussion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Jul 24, 2010 #3
    Weather or not collectivism is a strength or a detriment we are all heading to the same place. When populations grow the will of the individual becomes less significant. The frontier is long gone.
  5. Jul 24, 2010 #4
    The reason why East Asia fell behind Europe is because they did not set up naval trade and were conquered by the Western nations.
  6. Jul 24, 2010 #5
    The most fundamental reason, I believe, is holism, as opposed to atomism—if I am not mistaken. Holism is what mainly caused the East to be reluctant to trade with the West, and which led the West to use gunboats to do away with protectionism in the East. The other reason is because the political elites did not want to raise the living standard of the people as they were content with the social stability in place, and it didn't serve any other immediate purpose—perhaps they were also fearful that such a move might give more political power to merchants.
  7. Jul 24, 2010 #6
  8. Jul 24, 2010 #7
    That so reminds me of a quote from brave new world:

    “We could synthesize every morsel of food, if we wanted to. But we don’t. We prefer to keep a third of the population on the land. For their own sakes–because it takes longer to get food out of the land than out of a factory. Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don’t want to change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we’re so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.”
    http://johncreighton.amplify.com/2010/07/18/the-role-of-shortage-brave-new-world/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jul 25, 2010 #8
    Korea was a highly hierarchic society. The rich exploited the poor, and the rich would not accept that the poor are given more rights since it would diminish their own power. That's the way it was. It was very uncapitalistic.

    http://www.dramacrazy.net/korean-drama/dong-yi-episode-35/86831 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jul 25, 2010 #9
    Capitalism is an economic system. It does not necessarily identify with the social order in a country. A country can have capitalistic economic system, but still posses a lack of civil and political freedoms.

    During the late XVIII and XIX centuries, European countries underwent Democratic Revolutions and overthrew the Monarchies. But, Democracy is not the same as Capitalism.
  11. Jul 25, 2010 #10
    There is no free market, if some people are excluded from it.
  12. Jul 25, 2010 #11
    In wikipedia it says capitalism is the private ownership of wealth. It doesn't say it has to be inclusive to everyone in the state.
  13. Jul 25, 2010 #12
    I put a comma in that sentence for some odd reason of which I am not completely aware. Anyway, do you really consider Wikipedia for the Bible of all truths? Would you even consider substituting your brain for Wikipedia? Free market is basically pure offer and demand without distortions. Slaves don't earn any wage. Do you think the free market would allocate a significant portion of its labor force into very unproductive areas of the economy, and prevent them from participating and free economic actors? Of course, there is no perfect free market, but what was in place in East Asia was far more different.
  14. Jul 26, 2010 #13
    I thought the reason behind it was the West became basically materialistic (in the philosophical sense), and therefore the idea that the world followed mechanistic rules lent itself to scientific inquiry.

    The East is still into boogie woogie mystical worldviews.

    How can you have science when you believe the world is controlled by capricious gods, demons, nature spirits and the like?
  15. Jul 26, 2010 #14
    I don't think the East is still in the quicksand of irrationality. I will take your comment as a grain of salt. By the way, I am just giving my personal view on the matter.
  16. Jul 26, 2010 #15


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    Me, I blame it on the tea-drinking. Tea-drinking lead to the East-Asians being perfectly satisfied with using porcelain, which lead to them never developed glassworking technology.

    No glassworking, no eyeglasses, no optics, no microscopes, no telescopes, no test-tubes, etc.

    Seriously though, saying that it's because they didn't develop 'capitalism' is exchanging cause and effect. The Industrial Revolution occurred because of scientific/technological progress, not vice-versa. When the Enlightenment occurred, societies were still almost entirely agricultural and 'pre-capitalist'.
  17. Jul 26, 2010 #16
    At any rate, it certainly is not due to some superior creativity as some people claim. The Chinese are diverse and not some homogeneous people as these people probably believe.


  18. Jul 26, 2010 #17
    Perhaps I am mistaken, but free market existed long before the term was coined.
  19. Jul 26, 2010 #18
    If I were to put everything in one word, I would say this: holism, which is perhaps better since instead of giving some examples of its implications, I'd be more holistic or general and wouldn't have to find all of them.

    In ancient times, an Eastern scientist before presenting his findings would think about all the social consequences, political implications, etc. before deciding to do it or not; whereas a Western scientist would just present his findings.
  20. Jul 26, 2010 #19
    What do you mean by Ancient times and what findings would you give as an example?
  21. Jul 26, 2010 #20
  22. Jul 26, 2010 #21
    I will not watch any movies. If you can't answer a simple question, it's fine.
  23. Jul 26, 2010 #22
    It's obvious what I mean. Anyway, there are many things that suggest that what I am saying is completely true. For instance, look at the great Eastern thinkers: they were all poets, philosophers, politicians, astronomers, mathematicians, engineers, geologists, etc. all at once, they excelled in many fields and not just one--you may think this is extraordinary, but it is true.

    Look at the alphabetic systems of the East.


    Look at Eastern philosophical systems.

  24. Jul 26, 2010 #23
    Philosophy is not science, though and if you thnk a script is a major intellectual achievement, you need to get over it, cause there were a lot more advanced things invented or discovered after that. For example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calculus_ratiocinator" [Broken]


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_steam_engine" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  25. Jul 26, 2010 #24
    I never said that philosophy is science, nor did I say that inventing a script was a major intellectual achievement. I think you didn't understand a word I said.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  26. Jul 26, 2010 #25
    I didn't see any words you said. I just saw some links you posted in reply to direct queries.
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