Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘Toynbee

Toynbee on Turkey (1917)

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I picked from the library’s bookshelf, several months ago by now, this short volume by Arnold Joseph Toynbee, titled Turkey: A Past and a Future. Taken in context (1917), it’s somewhat interesting—though my sentiment might change if it were any longer than it is (it’s a delightfully short read).

The take-away:

Turkey, which claims the present in Western Asia, is nothing but an overthrow of the past and an obstruction of the future.

Written by M. James

February 2, 2012 at 1:04 am

Islamic cultural system: inductive?

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Behold the danger of [attempts at] universal history. Here’s an article by Thorsten Pattberg shamelessly stolen from his own book, The East-West Dichotomy: Behold the Law of Difference (seriously, it’s almost verbatim). Note that none of his examples of inductive reasoning come from the Islamic cultural system—even though he classifies it as one of the “Oriental” cultural systems.

I guess minor oversights like that are expected in universal history. Read the article as a comparison between broad themes in Western and Eastern philosophy and it almost works. Take away from it how difficult it is to paint intellectual history with a broad brush.

The East-West dichotomy revisited
Thorsten Pattberg; Asia Times Online; Dec. 13, 2011

“The West is deductive, from the universal to the particular; the East is inductive, from the particular to the universal.” 
– Ji Xianlin, 1996

According to the universal historians Arnold J Toynbee, Samuel P Huntington and Ji Xianlin, the world’s states form 21, 23 or 25 spheres, nine civilizations, and fall into four cultural systems: Arabic/Islam, Confucian, Hindi/Brahmin and Western/Christian, with the former three forming the Oriental cultural system and the latter one the Occidental cultural system. The main difference between the Orient and the Occident, so what people say lies in their different mode of thinking: The East is more inductive, the West is more deductive.

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Written by M. James

December 13, 2011 at 4:32 am