The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

The Difference Between Eastern and Western Values

Robert Dimuro

Posted on October 26, 2019 11:27

4 users

Comparing these value systems is crucial to understanding our place in history.

There are many ways in which societies around the world differ from one another - food, dress, art, and entertainment customs are the obvious examples. However, there's an overarching theme about the development of culture that can be split into two factions: East and West.

Ironically, designating a society as Eastern or Western has the least to do with geography and everything to do with cultural values.

As an example, Japan is considered to be a part of the Western world because it has come to embrace Western values. These value systems tend to be good predictors of how a given society will develop; therefore, understanding them is crucial to understanding our place in history.

The Western value system, as we envision it today, is a relatively new creation borne out of the Enlightenment. The primacy of the individual is the central idea that sparked radical change in the 17th and 18th centuries. This change countered thousands of years of civilized history in which class differences were rigid and authoritarian rule by a monarch was simply commonsense.

The Enlightenment was inspired by the lone exception of ancient Athens - the first society to embrace democracy. Today, the vast majority of Western nations are representative democracies in which citizens embrace the idea of self-governance. 

The final outpost of the Enlightenment was the creation of America, which not only allowed for self-governance but also established the basis for natural human rights and explicitly limited the power of government to subvert those rights. As such, the individual reigned superior in one's own life, elevating the idea that one's pride and self-worth come from one's ability to produce and obtain wealth.

It's important to notice that Enlightenment values oppose the values of Christianity in which self-enrichment, self-gratification, and competing with your neighbor are discouraged. "The meek will inherit the Earth" (Matthew 5:5) exemplifies this point. The secularization of the Western world was a bold change that the world had never seen before.

In contrast, Eastern values emphasize tradition, primacy of the community, and marginalization of the self. Unlike the West, the values of the East date back thousands of years and are firmly rooted in religion. Eastern religions, such as Confucianism and Hinduism, emphasize order and structure. For example, India's caste system was modeled in accordance with Hindu doctrine.

In the East, self-worth is derived from devotion to one's family and community, adherence to tradition, and respect for authority. Unlike Westerners, Easterners aren't as skeptical or distrustful of authority. They view government as benevolent and paternal, reinforcing traditional values and the preservation of a moral society. For this reason, it's easy to see how Communism took hold in the East and why China, the superpower of the East, remains Communist to this day.

It's clear that the West reigns superior on the basis of promoting individual rights, wealth creation, and self-governance. The question becomes whether or not this is the entire story for engineering the best possible society. 

Robert Dimuro

Posted on October 26, 2019 11:27

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

After playing three solid games out Waest, the Flyers return back to the East looking to continue their momentum.

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest