Logic in the East and the West

The article written by Nisbett in Chapter 7 of the book (please indicate the title of the whole book here) presents a clear idea of how logic exists differently in the East and the West. The discussion of the author presented various studies and various terms that have been used to support and weave together the different ideas.

The author’s terms are worth defining for these will clarify some portions of the study. First, there are French words included in the title and one should translate this into English terms to get a better picture of the article. Ce n’est pas logique translated to English would be “it is not logical.” Weaving it back to the title, it would then be “’It is not logical’ or ‘You’ve got a point there’?”

It is quite unsaid as to why the author used the language of French for the title. Second, the Latin phrase modus ponens also deserves some attention. In English, the term modes ponens is the method of affirming (“modus ponens and modus tollens”). Third, the word atypical would also be encountered and this is defined as “not conforming to the usual type or expected pattern” (“atypical”). It means the opposite of the typical argument.

Going back to the topic of logic in the east and the west, the author posed several studies conducted before to support the current hypothesis that there is a difference in the existence of logic in the two regions. A study that was cited by the author was that of Ara Norenzayan, Edward E. Smith, Beom Jun Kim, and Nisbett, the author himself, showed that the insignificant interest for the study of logic in the East may be attributed to the “distrust of decontextualization…as well as a distaste for making inferences on the basis of underlying abstract propositions alone” (Nisbett 168).

This was not proven by only one study made by the same authors but actually two studies they did. To further support the results of the study, the authors administered survey methods to respondents who are Korean, European American, and Asian American.  In addition to this, Ara Norenzayan and Beom Jun Kim made a presumption “that East Asians would be less likely to have their beliefs moved in an unpleasant direction by pondering information that implied some desired outcomes” (Nisbett 172). To do this, they administered questionnaires to Korean and American respondents containing propositions. The result was that the Americans continued towards the negative ones and the Koreans avoided this (Nisbett 173).

The author used propositions and discussed it according to the logic that may be applied to it. For example, the deductive arguments “All birds have ulnar arteries, therefore all eagles have ulnar arteries” and “All birds have ulnar arteries, therefore all penguins have ulnar arteries” which the author used to show the persuasiveness of typical and atypical arguments for the different respondents (Nisbett 168-9). It was stated by the author that there is a difference on how convinced the Koreans are to typical arguments than atypical arguments compared to the European American and Asian American. The atypical argument for the previous deductive argument is the latter for penguins are not typically seen as birds.

Works Cited

“atypical.” Encarta Dictionaries. DVD. Redmond, WA: Microsoft, 2006.

“modus ponens and modus tollens.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Mar. 2008  <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9372374>.

Nisbett, Richard. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why. New York: The Free Press, 2003.