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Maciamo
Aug 17, 2004, 02:29
The longer I live in Japan, speak to Japanese, and get to understand their mindset everyday a little better, the more I realise the abyssimal differences of morals that exist between my values (Western, or at least Western European) and theirs (or more broadly East Asian ones, as I found they were quite close in this respect).

Firstly, I have the impression that for the Japanese, Westerners are just "cute" (well, it depends which ones, but that is what I, my family or Western friends in Japan are often told). It seems that Japanese won't take us seriously and think of Westerners as attractive or charming or entertaining, but they give them little credits for being "reliable" or "responsible" in the Japanese sense. Understanding (even being told) this, I couldn't be more surprised at the way they think, as personally, and I think most Westerners would also agree, I find the Japanese to me more immature and irresponsible than Westerners in general. The problem is that these words have completely different meanings in the West and in Japan, due to the cultural rift or millenia or separations, which is far from having disappeared because of Japan's westernization in surface (but not deep inside, at the core values).

I have tried to summarized some of these divergences in values below.


West => Idealistic & moralistic
Japan => Pragmatic & cynical

Examples 1

West => Lying is wrong
Japan => Lying is necessary to avoid causing offense/trouble

Many Japanese think that something is wrong/reproachable only when it becomes known of others. Eg. If a man cheats on his wife but manage to keep it secret, he is not "wrong" as he doesn't hurt anyone's feeling as she doesn't know. This very way of thinking is enough to deeply shock most Westerners. But the same is true of Japanese politicians or business people. Frauds, abuses of power, briberies, etc. are only felt to be "wrong" when they become public.

Examples 2

West => Being responsible/adult means
1) behaving in morally good/praiseworthy way (eg. dissuade a child to smoke, save somebody who is drowning...)
2) be independent (be able to live by oneself, clean the house when necessary, etc.)

Japan => Being responsible/adult means
1) having money to support one's family or take care of them. From a moral point of view, the way the money is made is not important ("money is money").
2) It is also being able to integrate in the group (company, etc.). Japanese being collectivists, independence from the group is not viewed as maturity but the contrary.

See my thread on the concept of tayorigai (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7859) on this matter.

Examples 3

West => The government's role is educate the people (e.g. fight against racism, smoking, etc.) and to protect them from abuses from companies (environment, health, security, discrimination at work, being fired without reason, etc.)

Japan => The government's role is to protect companies and the economy. Laws to protect the people are only passed reluctantly when pressures from activists or foreign countries becomes too strong. The Ministry of Health helps/protects pharmaceuticals companies and doctors, not the patients. The Ministry of Agriculture helps/protects the farmers, not the consumers. Etc.

Examples 4

West => Laws are made to regulate/refrain immoral deeds or protect people agianst themselves (diseases, alcoholism, accidents, etc.)

Japan => Laws are made to keep the public order, whithout consideration for morals
- prostitution has long been legal in Japan, and was only banned by Americans after WWII, but the laws now exit only to for the international image or tatemae, as authorities turn a blind eye on it - even teenage prostitution. The same is true of gambling; illegal but everywhere around through pachinko parlours.
- The Japanese government owns Japan Tobacco and thus, instead of fighting against tobacco consumtion, encourages it. It creates money to finance national projects, so it is not "wrong" by Japanese standards.

Examples 5

West => Right or wrong are just subjective concepts depending on one's moral views. Morals includes logic, reasoning and feelings.
Japan => The winner is always right
- that mentality helped the Japanese believe that they were right in conquering Asia from the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 to WWII, but also to admit defeat and readily adopt changes brought by the Americans after 1945.
- Lots of mangas or Japanese movies have characters who try to prove that their ideas (or ideals) are rights by fighting and trying to win. If they lose, they very easily admit that they were wrong (just can't believe morals are just a matter of strength for them !!).


Examples 6

West => Happiness is measured by love, freedom, (political & social) rights, personal achievements, passions, realisation of one's dreams, security, etc. (also money and material possession, but people admitting it are usually frown upon as shallow)

Japan => Happiness is measured by money , material possessions and security.


Conclusion

Japanese often find that Westerners are naive of being so idealistic, and childish because they seem too excited and disconnected with reality. They know human nature and its weakness, and more readily accept things such as corruption, greed or treatment of women as sexual objects, because they think it is inevitable and has always been like that. In some way they are very cynical.

Westerners often find the Japanese are irresponsible on such issues as protection from STD's, naive for being too trusting/gullible, or lacking intellectual and moral maturity.

I can understand both point of views, and it is funny how living in one's home country accentuate the apparent maturity, while being in the other culture's country make one feel displaced and doubting their own values, because of the huge difference in environment.

Emoni
Aug 17, 2004, 04:19
Maciamo, first I want to say one thing before I respond. That everything below is directed at what you wrote, not at you personally.

I'm a person who goes by gut feeling on right and wrong. I may not be able to "explain" why something is wrong or right at the given moment, but somewhere deep down I know it IS. Call me arrogant, self-rightous, it doesn't matter, it is just the way I am. When I read this, I got that gut feeling very strongly. However, I am unsure of the specific reason why. Something, is wrong. Either what you wrote is due to your exposure to certain types of people and having a skewed view, or the fact that what you saw IS true and that it is extremely sad to read that it is. I knew one person from Japan, and care deeply about them. I can clearly say that I know they do not agree with some of the views you have stated that are common in Japan. By that, I know what you are saying cannot at all be 100% true.

At this moment, I cannot believe that all this is simply the way it is, no matter what. Even due to my total lack of experience, and the fact I have never been in Japan. I consider the majority of society to be mostly idiots, and count this for the world population. There are however, some truly good people out there. If you judge the people of a country on the "majority" of the actions of their population I think you would come up with every single country being full of absolutely cruel, horrible people.

I guess that is my reply... Something is very wrong, but I am not sure just quite what.

Mike Cash
Aug 17, 2004, 09:22
To Maciamo: Welcome to Japan
To Emoni: You obviously have never lived here

kirei_na_me
Aug 17, 2004, 09:29
It doesn't even take living there to know. It's obvious even living here among different ones for years.

And for those dreamers, I'm not saying it's good or bad. Just saying that there is some truth to what Maciamo says.

TwistedMac
Aug 17, 2004, 10:57
different countries have different values.. just because you're raised with one set and thus automatically feel the other sounds disgusting/wrong doesn't mean it is.. maybe what you're thinking is what many consider disgusting/wrong/cruel.

I would also like to add that i do not believe in gut feelings.. they are a quick assesment your mind makes from all the previous experience you have had and is therefore the direct feeling brought to you by your culture.

can't say I agree with maciamo since i have no experience of it, but i'll definatelly take his word for it. sounds logical enough.

Maciamo
Aug 17, 2004, 12:10
There are however, some truly good people out there. If you judge the people of a country on the "majority" of the actions of their population I think you would come up with every single country being full of absolutely cruel, horrible people.[/b]

I can't believe that you would go as far as comparing Japanese people with cruel and horrible people, if my I said were absolutely true ! :mad:

In fact, being idealistic and moralistic can lead to some ugly situation where the that culture tries to impose its views on others because they are right (a bit like you know saying that if Japanese are as described above, they must be wrong !). Why do you think the West has led crusades in the Middle Ages ? Because they possessed the truth and the Muslims could only be wrong. What happened when the Spaniards and others colonized America ? They converted the locals by force to their moral beliefs. What is happening now with Bush and Iraq< Iran or North Korea ? Bush saw Saddam (and still see the 2 others) as evil because their values were different.

The advantage with non-moralistic countries like Japan, China or basically all East Asia as far as Indonesia is that they don'ttry to impose their values to others. That is why China has never tried to cololize the rest of the world to "civilize" them. When Japan invaded other Asian countries in the 1st half of the 20th century, they didn't try to civilize them or educate them, or convert them to their religion (although Shinto was state-religion at the time). They only cared about money (natural resources, forced labor, plundering of historical treasures, etc.).

thomas
Aug 17, 2004, 12:33
Excellent post, Maciamo. Sad, but so true.

I would just like to relativise your legal examples. Judicial hypocrisy also exists in the so-called enlightened Western countries, in particular as far as monopolies (such as the Japanese tobacco monopoly you mentioned) are concerned. The West and its glorious ethical concepts are not immune to the filthy lucre. Also, I daresay that most of the jurisdictional action in Western countries is reactive ("Anlassgesetzgebung" in German) and not proactive too.

jieshi
Aug 17, 2004, 13:22
different countries have different values.. just because you're raised with one set and thus automatically feel the other sounds disgusting/wrong doesn't mean it is.. maybe what you're thinking is what many consider disgusting/wrong/cruel.



Damn straight twisted mac! Just because you come from another culture it doesn't automatically make the new culture wrong. A good example that AFS has taught me is not to say driving on the wrong side of the road. It's not the wrong side of the road, just the different side of the road.

Ewok85
Aug 17, 2004, 14:20
Good post Maciamo, its better put than I could do it.

The lying thing really gets on my nerves. Whilst in Japan there are 2 things that stand out from my experience that really annoy me. The first one was one day during school the police came and arrested a teacher. I asked what was happening and noone knew and the next day the school released a note for everyone to take home explaining what had happened.
Their story: The teacher had been taken in for questioning about an incident and the school had 'relieved him' due to stress.
What happened: He threatened a guy with a knife and physically assaulted him and was thus arrested.

The other was one day after school clubs were over, about 7pm. Most people take the bus back from the sports campus but my club is at the main campus and I was waiting for a friend who is on the bus. So the buses roll up and everyone gets on reaaally quick, very quietly and 2 teachers get on. Inside the bus you can hear screaming and crying. 2 ambulances turn up and they take 2 girls from the volleyball club off the bus, who are clutching at their chests having trouble breathing. I've done FA courses about 4 times, at school, cadets, for surflife saving and for work. These two were hyperventilating and it would be a pretty simple thing to treat. But when I asked the teachers what happened I got "it was just mental stress from family troubles".... 2 girls, in the same club from different families on the same day? Nah, its called not cooling down after training (they run these girls hard right up to the last minute).

Being a foreigner in Japan who can speak Japanese is a 'novelty' and is a PAIN to get people to take you seriously. 2 years out of high school I turn up in Japan and WHAM, im back to being treated like a primary school student. "No, you cant cross the road till I say its safe", "oh you cant go out after dark, its dangerous" etc etc. :'( arrgh

I'm not saying its wrong, just different. And Jeishi, they do drive on the same side of the road as us ;) heh

Show me one line, just a single line, where he says that its bad? He does state at the start its just what he's noticed and how its different. Live in Japan for a prolonged length of time and you'll discover this.

jieshi
Aug 17, 2004, 14:35
I'm not saying its wrong, just different. And Jeishi, they do drive on the same side of the road as us ;) heh
.

I wasnt refering to japan, i was just saying in general

Emoni
Aug 17, 2004, 14:45
I can't believe that you would go as far as comparing Japanese people with cruel and horrible people, if my I said were absolutely true !

Maciamo, by no means am I calling the Japanese horrible and cruel. If anything I am backing up some of what you posted in your second post. To clearify, if you start covering a society with blanket judgement on what ever single person does, you will run into serious problems. The most serious of which would be the fear that goes with those types of beliefs. You do however, get into very hazy waters when you get into the subject of culture based morals. As no matter what you do, you cannot take the stand of absolute objectivity and unbaised and claim that you are being honest on issues like this. :?

At same time though, I have little faith in the majority of the world's population on most matters. I've just run into too many of these "people things" to put my trust in them. Go figure :p That is no society, culture or country however, don't mistake that please.

As for the gut feeling, it wasn't directed at anything specific or any moral judgement per say, it was mainly a feeling that something wasn't quite all correct and set. Not a clue why though, and I want to stress that.

I do however want to comment on your statement of non-moralistic country behavior. You made claims that it is an advantige due to invasions. You claim they don't try to impose their values, yet at the same time you are missing some key factors as that they usually either attempted near total eradication of the population, or forced them into submission under a new GOVERNMENT (which no government you can claim to be based off of NO moralistic guidence, even non-religous). Look at China's history, Mongolia, and especially Japan and you will quickly get examples of what I am stating.

By no means did east-asian countries fight a "nice war" or was it "no big deal compared to western based take-overs" it was war like anywhere else. Bloody invasions, oppression and take over. Whether it was for resources, moral differences or government, there were still people in the way.
War is war, and it is NEVER no big deal or nice.

Maciamo
Aug 17, 2004, 16:14
I do however want to comment on your statement of non-moralistic country behavior. You made claims that it is an advantige due to invasions.

I didn't "claim" it was an advantage. Just that it influences the possibility of colonizing other countries to civilize them (not just invading for power or money, that is very different).


You claim they don't try to impose their values, yet at the same time you are missing some key factors as that they usually either attempted near total eradication of the population

What are you talking about ? What China did to Tibet ? Justly, this is because they lack moral conscience.



By no means did east-asian countries fight a "nice war" or was it "no big deal compared to western based take-overs"

That's the point. You seem to understand what I am talking about. While the West colonised also for commercial and political reasons, they often (but not systematically) tried to modernise, develop and educate colonized countries, and tried to keep good relationship with them after decolonization (with institutions such as the Commomwealth of Nations for the UK, or the various economic and educational cooperation projects between France and its former Africa colonies, etc.). Western countries also felt the moral obligation to accept millions of immigrants from former colonies, while Japan tried hard to boot them out after WWII, when they weren't necessary for the war effort anymore. Japan and the Asian countries it controlled (I won't name them colonies), still have uneasy relationships, with many Asian still bearing grudge against Japan like nothing seen with Western colonies.

So we could say that the moralistic approach incites to colonize, with the aim of civilizing and educating the locals, in addition to the struggle for power and resources (which is universal).

Ewok85
Aug 17, 2004, 16:38
To clearify, if you start covering a society with blanket judgement on what ever single person does, you will run into serious problems.

Assuming that the misspelt words are what I think they are, he is not just picking a handful of people and elevating their actions to that of a society, he is taking the actions of a society and listing them!

AKEBONO
Aug 17, 2004, 16:43
Wonder whether the named conflicts like crusades to the 'wholly land', the conquer of Latin America by spain, the iraq conflict is related to the religion ? Maby the religon was used to unify the submissed countries and just destroy the culture in order to rule them? And in case of Iraq its doubtful 'values' are the reason for the war..... Maybe the reason is simply 'money' = 'Oil' ?

Miacamo I share your entry mostly. I have been working close with japanese and the diffrences often lead to misunderstandings. Most of the european have christian background. So our values are at least close to each other and we have a common understanding. Most of asian countries (if not all) have a completly diffrent development throughout. But this makes the cultures so attracitve isnt it ?

Considering todays situation in some european countries the corruption is widely established.... well even in Europe the moral standards might be diffrent to ideals we have had. The reality is often diffrent....

Finally is it wrong to say 'money' is important ? Everybody likes money and is working hard for it in order to have a good life. In this sense where is the diffrence between Japan and Europe or other countries/cultures ? I dont want to know from where some businesmen get their money although this people enjoy reputation in the society.

canadian_kor
Aug 17, 2004, 17:06
As a Korean Canadian and having grown up among fellow Koreans (both first and second generation types), the Korean value system is almost identical to the Japanese one. Also, I have to agree with Mac here. I tend to agree with the people who get annoyed with the lying thing. I'm also annoyed with the whole "if it works--even if it is wrong--go do it" attitude common among East Asians. I think people should not be afraid to speak out and say that certain value systems are "better" or "more right" than others. Our postmodern world tells us (or lies to us) that everything is right and no one should claim absolute supremacy on values and morals. To me, that is just bull. There are absolute morals that are above our heads, it only depends on which culture or society grasps it more closely.

Brooker
Aug 17, 2004, 17:21
Based on my time in Japan it sounds like Mac's assessments are on track. But I'm sure there are some Japanese ways of thinking that are better than Western ways of thinking, but they're less obvious to us because we are Westerners.

Maciamo
Aug 17, 2004, 17:51
Wonder whether the named conflicts like crusades to the 'wholly land', the conquer of Latin America by spain, the iraq conflict is related to the religion ? Maby the religon was used to unify the submissed countries and just destroy the culture in order to rule them? And in case of Iraq its doubtful 'values' are the reason for the war..... Maybe the reason is simply 'money' = 'Oil' ?

You should differientaite between the real reason (honne), such as money, power or politics, and the official reason (tatemae) which the leaders tell the people going to war and which is the motivating power for soldiers, missionaries or colonizers.



Considering todays situation in some european countries the corruption is widely established.... well even in Europe the moral standards might be diffrent to ideals we have had. The reality is often diffrent....

Yes, but the main difference is that corruption is considered "evil" in the West, and corrupted politicians usually face heavy fines or emprisonment. In Japan, corruption is considered part and parcel of human nature, and thus inevitable and is treated much more leniently. Many corrupted Japanese politicians have not only continued their carreer, but even reached higher positions (even Prime Minister, like the LDP Secretary General Sato Eisaku, who received massive brobery from the shipbuilding industry in 1953, but went on to become Prime Minister anyway from 1964 to 1972, the longest term ever served by any PM in Japanese history !).



Finally is it wrong to say 'money' is important ? Everybody likes money and is working hard for it in order to have a good life. In this sense where is the diffrence between Japan and Europe or other countries/cultures ? I dont want to know from where some businesmen get their money although this people enjoy reputation in the society.

It isn't wrong, and I have included it in the Western sources of happiness (along with love, personal achievements, ideals...), but Japanese (and East Asians) notoriously place an disproportionate importance to it, and hardly care about more "philosophical" values.


But I'm sure there are some Japanese ways of thinking that are better than Western ways of thinking, but they're less obvious to us because we are Westerners.


You are still judging what I said as "the Japanese way of thinking" is less good than ours, because you cannot accept that their values are equal. It is very difficult to stay neutral or impartial in this kind of discussion.

But if you want to know what makes the Japanese/East-Asian way of thinking superior, it's very easy : it promotes economic development through unrestraint capitalism. As money is one of the most important values (as opposed to love, hobbies, family, friendships...) in East-Asia, success can only be achieved by economic development.

I should also have mentioned that "face" is extremely important in East-Asia. It doesn't matter how rich and happy people really are, as long as they look rich and happy. This is the principle of tatemae in Japan, but the same exist elsewehere in Asia. On paper, compared to other countries, Japan is indeed a rich country, with a high GDP per capita, low unemployment, high education, etc. But in reality, companies are rich, not the people; low unemployment is fictional (see my thread Real unemployment in Japan reaches 25.5% (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10907)), people reach high education levels because it's almost impossible to fail (see my thread Only 26% of Japanese understand their lesson at school (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11000)), and as everybosy knows, Japanese live in rabbit-hutches, usually without garden, pay more than the average Westerners for most products, and get little holiday. But as long as Japan looks prosperous, the authorities are happy; they save their face in the international community.

A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy. I expected things like getting more holiday, less corruption at the government, better medical care, better education, etc. Sometimes they cited things like having more time for hobbies, but ultimately it was to boost the leisure industry ! So people don;t count, as long as the economy works. That is how Japanese (and East-Asian) really think ! At least you can't blame them for being selfish. The group (country and companies) go first, before the individual.

Ewok85
Aug 17, 2004, 20:46
A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy.

Ah I remember a fun social studies lesson in Japan. The students were asked that they think when they hear the word "shakai" (society). So we had cities and jobs and economy, I'm the last person in the class (very convientient, I can slip in and out with ease :D) and I said people. The one thing that makes up a society is the individual people working together. Its all nice saying you want a better economy but its each person, each individual that makes the difference.

PopCulturePooka
Aug 17, 2004, 21:13
Maciamo, I agree with msot of your points except:


In fact, being idealistic and moralistic can lead to some ugly situation where the that culture tries to impose its views on others because they are right (a bit like you know saying that if Japanese are as described above, they must be wrong !). Why do you think the West has led crusades in the Middle Ages ? Because they possessed the truth and the Muslims could only be wrong. What happened when the Spaniards and others colonized America ? They converted the locals by force to their moral beliefs. What is happening now with Bush and Iraq< Iran or North Korea ? Bush saw Saddam (and still see the 2 others) as evil because their values were different.

The advantage with non-moralistic countries like Japan, China or basically all East Asia as far as Indonesia is that they don'ttry to impose their values to others. That is why China has never tried to cololize the rest of the world to "civilize" them. When Japan invaded other Asian countries in the 1st half of the 20th century, they didn't try to civilize them or educate them, or convert them to their religion (although Shinto was state-religion at the time). They only cared about money (natural resources, forced labor, plundering of historical treasures, etc.).

I see nothing wrong with occasionally forcing morality of murderous dictators. I disagree with the IRaq war because of honesty issues and the fact taht most of Australia supported it but our tool of a PM went ahead anyway.

But this world is full of murdering curs that steam-roll over their people for their own gain. Mugabe. Jong Il. The Saudi Royale family. The leaders of Sudan if they are in fact supporting the Janjaweed. And before they were taken down Saddam and the Taliban.

I am in firm belief, as a leftist, socialist, ecologist and humanitarian that the people in those countries have a right to live free lives unopressed by cruel monsters. If using a bit of 'morality inducement' is the way to do that when other avenues fail so be it. And unfortunately the other avenues fail. Trade Sanctions never seem to work. In the end its the people that suffer, not the murderes in charge.

I don't think that after the removal of the cancer (and thats what the leaders of those countries are, cancers) that those that did the removal should force their morality onto the newly freed people. They should only do so to the extent that its prevents another monster taking the old ones place.

nekosasori
Aug 17, 2004, 22:15
Interesting post, Maciamo - just had two comments to make:

1) The examples 1,2, and 3 you gave for the "Japanese" definition of those concepts actually matches more closely what I see in Ireland than the "Western" view. Having now lived in Ireland for almost 4 years, I believe that there are more parallels to be drawn than differences between Japan and Ireland, their commonalities in culture stemming from their both being island cultures. In these cases, I don't find your "Western European" sensibilities being supported at all in Ireland. And from what I can tell of Chinese culture, I don't think mainland Chinese are of the "lying is necessary to protect others" mindset either - therefore I'm not sure if all of East Asia can be lumped in together this way.

2) Despite growing up in Canada, I've always believed that prostitution should be legal - in fact, when it used to be, it's my understanding that STDs were far more controlled (pre-WWII) because the government would require all registered prostitutes to be tested regularly for them. Personally, I ascribe to a combination of those definitions of concepts that you cited, Maciamo, and this is a particular example.

Ewok85
Aug 17, 2004, 22:53
Legalisation of prostitution is a hot topic, and it depends on the state and/or country on how this is taken.

Elizabeth
Aug 17, 2004, 23:34
[/i] I knew one person from Japan, and care deeply about them. I can clearly say that I know they do not agree with some of the views you have stated that are common in Japan. By that, I know what you are saying cannot at all be 100% true.
Of course it isn't 100% true. There is not even a clear internal logic between deeply held cultural beliefs in group integration, concern for other people's feelings, or social harmony with "might makes right," Japanese public opinion tending towards pacificism, lack of support for US ousting of dictators on a national level and material security as the road to happiness on an individual level. If collectivism had no beneficial effects, such as holding down violence, public disorder, drug use, divorce and other social patholgies (prostitution excepted) without resorting becoming a police state and giving people a strong sense of belonging and emotional security it doubtless would not have survived the last 200 years while the West has gone a different route.

Elizabeth
Aug 18, 2004, 03:55
A little anecdote; when I asked some Japanese businessmen what Japanese could do to improve their country or lifestyle, I was told by all of them that it should do this or that to improve the economy. I expected things like getting more holiday, less corruption at the government, better medical care, better education, etc. Sometimes they cited things like having more time for hobbies, but ultimately it was to boost the leisure industry ! So people don;t count, as long as the economy works. That is how Japanese (and East-Asian) really think ! At least you can't blame them for being selfish. The group (country and companies) go first, before the individual.
In all honesty, that is most likely the response most Americans would give as well to how the country can be improved. Which is why disappointing news on the economy dominates electoral politics at all levels and invariably leads off all the national news broadcasts, deserving of banner headlines etc. To the dismay of social issue voters who tend to be less well off and don't vote their economic interests. If some Japanese tend to be bizarely obsessed with getting paid and about accumulating personal wealth, to the extent they aren't using it to create an inequitable society or flaunt it to the point of drawing envy, I've more or less made my peace with that. I've never personally been judged on that basis. And of course many do have understandable financial hardships and fears of unemployment or not being able to find new work.....

Saria
Aug 18, 2004, 08:26
every country, political sistuwaton, religon & culture has it's good points & bad. we all are diffrient & see things diffrently. it would be nice if there was a system that was good for both business & the people but there isn't. & if there was it would most likely become corrupted in some way. people are coruptable & often times selfish. power corupts. so I suppose all we can do is try to understand eachother

Maciamo
Aug 18, 2004, 10:39
In all honesty, that is most likely the response most Americans would give as well to how the country can be improved.

I you ask me what could be improved in Europe, I'd say the education system (as explained in another thread (http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10949)), more democracy (frequent referendum about important issues, internet polls taken in consideration by politicians, etc.), reform the unemployment benefit system so as to have less lazy people not looking for jobs, crack down on criminality (with expulsion of foreign criminal with non-permanent visa, which isn't even the case now ! - probably the only place in the world :okashii: ), stimulate the economy, create more private (paid) universities to rival with American ones (as currently they are all free and at very similar levels, but not enough excellent ones due to lack of funds), etc, etc. I don't even know where to stop, as there are so many obvious things that everybody know need to ne improved.

But when I ask educated Japanese business people, I only hear about the economy, while the situation regarding democracy, education, etc. are much worse in Japan than in Europe (I hope that people who consider me a "Japan-basher" will finally understand that I am being very kind in my criticism of Japan, compared to what I would do "at home", in Europe, with my own government and people; because I don't even have the right to vote in Japan :okashii: ).

Emoni
Aug 18, 2004, 11:00
Can't say this isn't a good deep thread, that is for sure!

You mentioned that Japanese Business people only speak of the economy. I'm interested in the areas where you find the Japanese education system in trouble. I've seen many examples of areas that need serious improvement, I'm wondering what you have seen.

Even my Japanese language teacher detests the education system in Japan due to it's extreme requirements and strictness. His class on the other extreme is very laid back, relaxed and grades are mostly earned through effort that he sees you put into it and what is deserved, not by hard number crunching and curves.

Ewok85
Aug 18, 2004, 12:33
I think this is an interesting thread. Have you even seen first-hand how these things work? And once you've been there a while you get a greater understanding of how things are in your own country. People here are overly loud, rude, selfish.

Elizabeth
Aug 18, 2004, 22:09
I think this is an interesting thread. Have you even seen first-hand how these things work? And once you've been there a while you get a greater understanding of how things are in your own country. People here are overly loud, rude, selfish.
Yeah, it's painfully obvious on these boards and Forum Japon alone how much more persistent, demanding and overtly selfish Europeans, Middle Easterners and to a certain extent probably Americans can come across compared with our Japanese counterparts. Hmmm....Well then....let's see.....that only leaves only Africa, Central/South Asia, Mexico/ Central/South America and Canada still to be gone over ? Anyone know anyone from the polar regions ? :p

kirei_na_me
Aug 18, 2004, 22:39
Hehehe... :giggle:

Shiro
Aug 18, 2004, 23:23
:eek:
Mac's claim is a sort of the commonplace theory of "guilt culture and shame culture" brought by Ruth Benedict's book. In his case, it seems way too mechanically simplified, though.

nekosasori
Aug 18, 2004, 23:46
I'd also be interested in hearing how Maciamo thinks "democracy" is in trouble in Japan. Every country faces political corruption, and I find multi-party systems to be preferable (even when the lines of distinction are blurred) to the US two-party (aka "lesser of two evils") system, personally.

Also, when Maciamo talks to "educated" business people, I'd mostly assume that they're a product of this purportedly dysfunctional education system in Japan, so their only talking about economy-related things would only be further proof of the mindset issues as encouraged by their schooling.

I've read in a couple of different sources now that Confucianism and its mentality has led to it being difficult for Japanese to criticize the government - in China, too lots of people over many centuries (including Confucius himself) had a goal of landing a state/civic job for life, and since I'm now reading about the Shinsengumi in Japan which could arguably be called the last bastion of traditional samurai values (in the 1860's), I can see that serving one's government (e.g. not the reverse, of government helping the common person) was de rigueur.

Anyway, getting back to the people Maciamo talked to: were any of them educated abroad? I have no doubt that many Japanese have been getting higher education abroad - but what percentage of those return to Japan to live? I think the Crown Prince and Princess were both educated abroad (he in England, she at Harvard) - I'd love to know how they feel their nation is doing...

RockLee
Aug 19, 2004, 10:23
I guess experiencing all of the above that was said can make you understand how the current situation is over there atm.I've never been there myself yet, but I do know the things that were said about the BAD are not EVERYWHERE in Japan, I actually think most of the people on this forum live/ed, work/ed around the BIG CITY area; and believe me those people are ALWAYS different from the people that DON'T.I would like to know THEIR situation, as I've heard nothing about Hokkaido area yet.

chikazukiyasui
Aug 19, 2004, 20:00
West => Idealistic & moralistic
Japan => Pragmatic & cynical


Fair enough.

As has been said, this thesis bears some resemblance to the "shame" versus "guilt" society theory that has been bandied about for a few years now.

Personally, I'm not convinced that the things you say are quite sound as a generalization of the contrast between Western and Japanese values. Nor do I think that the West comes out well in the picture you paint.




West => Lying is wrong
Japan => Lying is necessary to avoid causing offense/trouble


But lying isn't always wrong. Only certain kinds of lies are wrong: e.g., libel, false advertising, scientific or journalistic fraud, etc. -- lies that cause real harm, or that are part of a process of doing something to cause harm. Saying "I'm fine thanks" when one is miserable is perfectly okay. In English, there is the phrase, "white lie". If the West is wholly against lying (and I'm not sure it is), it is irrational to be so. I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on. I think too much of that confession thing is bad for individuals and for society.




West => Being responsible/adult means
1) behaving in morally good/praiseworthy way (eg. dissuade a child to smoke, save somebody who is drowning...)
2) be independent (be able to live by oneself, clean the house when necessary, etc.)

Japan => Being responsible/adult means
1) having money to support one's family or take care of them. From a moral point of view, the way the money is made is not important ("money is money").
2) It is also being able to integrate in the group (company, etc.). Japanese being collectivists, independence from the group is not viewed as maturity but the contrary.


Unless you have a definite vocation that is incompatible with making money (and surely that only applies to a few people), you might as well go ahead and make some. As for being "independent", if that means going into the bush and living on grubs, leave it to the birds. Italians routinely stay at home with their mothers until their mother drops dead, and the Irish if they didn't emigrate so much probably would, too. Italy and Ireland, and to some extent France also have a very relaxed attitude to official corruption. (Nekosasori has already mentioned Ireland.)



West => The government's role is educate the people (e.g. fight against racism, smoking, etc.) and to protect them from abuses from companies (environment, health, security, discrimination at work, being fired without reason, etc.)

Japan => The government's role is to protect companies and the economy. Laws to protect the people are only passed reluctantly when pressures from activists or foreign countries becomes too strong. The Ministry of Health helps/protects pharmaceuticals companies and doctors, not the patients. The Ministry of Agriculture helps/protects the farmers, not the consumers. Etc.


Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco. Some (Britain is one of them) fail to seriously discourage it because they like the money (either monopoly profits or taxes and duties) that they get from the stuff. Many Western governments are to a large degree influenced by corporate lobbies. The US government does very little to protect the people on environment, health, security (look at the crime rate), discrimination at work, being fired without reason. Maybe a little bit on the environment, but not much.



West => Laws are made to regulate/refrain immoral deeds or protect people agianst themselves (diseases, alcoholism, accidents, etc.)

Japan => Laws are made to keep the public order, whithout consideration for morals
- prostitution has long been legal in Japan, and was only banned by Americans after WWII,

It is contrary to Western liberal (Mill, Bentham, Spencer, Burke) principles to make laws based on purely moral premises, and different Western governments treat prostitution very differently (some are absolutely intolerant, some are completely tolerant).

Also, there are quite a lot of things that are illegal in Western countries which are nonetheless widely tolerated. (You only need to stand by a road and watch the traffic to see this is true.)



West => Right or wrong are just subjective concepts depending on one's moral views. Morals includes logic, reasoning and feelings.
Japan => The winner is always right


Right now, the US believes might is right. That's why it gets huffy whenever other countries try to tell it that it is wrong.

In the days of Empire, Britain and France behaved also as if they believed might was right, much of the time.

I think that the mighty always have a tendency to think might is right.

Incidentally, the Japanese did replace the teaching of Korean language and arts with Japanese equivalents in Korean schools when it had an Empire over there. One gets the feeling from Koreans that more than military domination, it is the deprecation of Korean culture by Japan that riles.



West => Happiness is measured by love, freedom, (political & social) rights, personal achievements, passions, realisation of one's dreams, security, etc. (also money and material possession, but people admitting it are usually frown upon as shallow)

Japan => Happiness is measured by money , material possessions and security.


It is irrational to exclude money from the list of things that brings happiness. Money is a big factor in happiness.

I think that parts of the West do have an instinctive dislike of "money-grabbing", but not all. After all, it was the West that invented capitalism. They had to invent a new religion (Calvinism) to make it possible, though.




Conclusion

Japanese often find that Westerners are naive of being so idealistic, and childish because they seem too excited and disconnected with reality. They know human nature and its weakness, and more readily accept things such as corruption, greed or treatment of women as sexual objects, because they think it is inevitable and has always been like that. In some way they are very cynical.

Westerners often find the Japanese are irresponsible on such issues as protection from STD's, naive for being too trusting/gullible, or lacking intellectual and moral maturity.

I can understand both point of views, and it is funny how living in one's home country accentuate the apparent maturity, while being in the other culture's country make one feel displaced and doubting their own values, because of the huge difference in environment.

I find myself agreeing more with the values you ascribe to the Japanese than with those you ascribe to the "West" (although I don't think the whole of the West really does think the way you say).

Maciamo
Aug 20, 2004, 01:26
Nor do I think that the West comes out well in the picture you paint.

Not necessarily indeed.



But lying isn't always wrong. Only certain kinds of lies are wrong: e.g., libel, false advertising, scientific or journalistic fraud, etc. -- lies that cause real harm, or that are part of a process of doing something to cause harm. Saying "I'm fine thanks" when one is miserable is perfectly okay.

It all depends of your definition of "lying". Lying about one's feelings is just a subjective statement which some people could not even see clearly. When asked how I feel about something, I often don't know what to reply as I may have mixed feeling or feelings contradictory to my reason.

I believe one can only lie about facts. Libel, or diffamation are also about facts. Saying that the president had an affair with someone is a lie if it isn't a fact. Saying the president is stupid is just an offensive opinion (so not a lie, just a subjective feeling).


I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on.

No Catholics are also against lying.



Unless you have a definite vocation that is incompatible with making money (and surely that only applies to a few people), you might as well go ahead and make some.
...

It is irrational to exclude money from the list of things that brings happiness. Money is a big factor in happiness.

You may read and re-read what I wrote. I have never excluded money from the source of things that bring happiness in the West. My point was that it was much more (though not completely) limited to it in Japan than in the West.



As for being "independent", if that means going into the bush and living on grubs, leave it to the birds. Italians routinely stay at home with their mothers until their mother drops dead, and the Irish if they didn't emigrate so much probably would, too. [quote]

Independent also means doing what you want and not just doing things because others do it (which is typical of Japanese). Westerners are in general (with the exceptions of Mediteraneans, though not Northern Italians) much more independent in thinking, have their own (sometimes very arrested) opinions. I think it is related to the "idealistic and moralistic" tendency, as a strong independence of spririt is necessary to have ideals, and choose one's own moral rules (even by choosing a religion or sect). Again, I have never said that the Western way was better. It is the most common mistake made by my readers to assume that I always defend the Western way because I am a Westerner, or that being "moral(istic)" is necessarily better than being cynical (personally I am as much and maybe more cynical than the Japanese, but I feel isolated among the average Westerners).


[quote]
Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco.

Examples please.




It is contrary to Western liberal (Mill, Bentham, Spencer, Burke) principles to make laws based on purely moral premises, and different Western governments treat prostitution very differently (some are absolutely intolerant, some are completely tolerant).

Good point, although few politicians follow the good examples of our philosophers (or choose the wrong ones).



Also, there are quite a lot of things that are illegal in Western countries which are nonetheless widely tolerated. (You only need to stand by a road and watch the traffic to see this is true.)

I never said the contrary. I gave the example of prostitution being tolerated though illegal just to show that before the American came in 1945, Japan didn't see any moral problem with it. This is quite different from saying that prostitution is allowed on tolerated in Europe although it is seen as immoral, but legal in order to control it. Japanese people don't seem to consider it immoral in the first place. The example of people speeding on motorways or not respecting road signs has nothing to do with morals, but safety.





I find myself agreeing more with the values you ascribe to the Japanese than with those you ascribe to the "West" (although I don't think the whole of the West really does think the way you say).

Me too partially. I am more cynical than moralistic, but I osciliate between idealism and pragmatism.

nekosasori
Aug 20, 2004, 17:41
I think a subset of the West -- that part which has been strongly influenced by Christian fundamentalism (Baptist, Methodist, etc.) is anti-lying, and in favour of public confession and so on.


No Catholics are also against lying.

Well, the Irish do not practice what the (Irish Catholic) Church preaches - take the two examples of 1) child abuse cases by priests which were completely overlooked until they couldn't hide this any longer and 2) priests also taking advantage of young orphaned women (to keep as sex partners and housekeepers) - this has STILL not been apologized about by the Church.

As for examples of Western governments making money out of alcohol/tabacco - Canada and Ireland both readily come to mind given the amount of tax they place on both substances. The Ontario government for instance is the only legal outlet for off-licenses (stores that sell take-out booze). A pack of cigarettes in Ireland costs about three times the amount it does in Spain, due to taxes.

Hero
Aug 23, 2004, 03:26
TwistedMac: I'm not sure why you don't believe in gut feeling...
But I VERY much believe in mine. It's kept me out of trouble, gave me good hints/clues about things... and yes, sometimes I don't exactly know what it's trying to tell me, lol.

Plus it told me of the girl meant for me and we're currently going out/going to get married. Plus a fortune told me we'd get married before we even started going out.

Yes I believe in fortunes and "signs".. no not the religious kind.
Almost every fortune I've gotten was or became true.

Sorry for going off topic, huhu.

Maciamo
Aug 23, 2004, 11:42
As for examples of Western governments making money out of alcohol/tabacco - Canada and Ireland both readily come to mind given the amount of tax they place on both substances. The Ontario government for instance is the only legal outlet for off-licenses (stores that sell take-out booze). A pack of cigarettes in Ireland costs about three times the amount it does in Spain, due to taxes.

1) It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.

2) My example about the Japanese government was very different. Not only are taxes low (a pack of cigarette only cost about 250yen, or 2 euro, in Tokyo, which incidentally is the world's most expensive city). But the government possess (with shares), and manage "Japan Tobacco", the company that produces most of the cigarettes available in Japan (Mild Seven, Parliament, etc.).

What is more, ads for tobacco are everywhere (while they are now prohibited in countries like France), and packs of cigarettes only have the mention "You should be 20 years old to smoke. Don't abuse at it could damage your health." In contrast, in Western countries it shows "Tobacco kills" or "Tobacco causes cancer", or "tobacco seriously damages health", etc. In comparison, Japanese laws are very mild indeed.

Additionally, I have never seen ads against tobacco in Japan, which are so common in the West (in public transports, government buildings, doctors's waiting rooms). How comes ?

bossel
Aug 23, 2004, 12:43
1) It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.
I have to disagree on this one. Taxing obviously doesn't promote usage, but it doesn't really seem to be intended to discourage it either. I know, that in Germany the government says that they raise tax (on gas, alcohol, cigarettes) to further decrease usage, but at the same time they calculate their tax revenue on basis of continued usage rates. (BTW, due to rising oil prices they miscalculated their gas tax revenue :D , people actually did use less, now the government has another deficit of billions)


What is more, ads for tobacco are everywhere (while they are now prohibited in countries like France), and packs of cigarettes only have the mention "You should be 20 years old to smoke. Don't abuse at it could damage your health." In contrast, in Western countries it shows "Tobacco kills" or "Tobacco causes cancer", or "tobacco seriously damages health", etc. In comparison, Japanese laws are very mild indeed.
Although they have made these labels an obligation in the EU, they are not too coherent in their policy. European tobacco farmers are still subsidised with 1 billion € annually (at least until 2009).

Maciamo
Aug 23, 2004, 13:09
Although they have made these labels an obligation in the EU, they are not too coherent in their policy. European tobacco farmers are still subsidised with 1 billion € annually (at least until 2009).

This is another issue. Tobacco isn't illegal in Europe, so, if people are going to sell it and make profits from it, let it at least be European companies rather than foreign ones. I totally understand that. But that doesn't prevent the authorities from banning tonacco advertisment and raising prices through taxes to "limit" the consumption. The miscalculation about taxes you mentioned above are just an accounting problem, they do not try to keep consumption levels using any form of promotion just to assure revenues. Again, in Japan it is very different, as it is the government that promotes the use of tobacco by advertising (as JT is a public company).

bossel
Aug 23, 2004, 13:52
The miscalculation about taxes you mentioned above are just an accounting problem,
Not just an accounting problem, this is policy. They do it with everything, from alcohol to gas. They say that they raise tax only to discourage smoking (or whatever), but actually they don't care. What they care about is their budget. The miscalculation was only due to rising international oil prices, else it would have probably worked as usual: no decrease in usage, but increase of tax income.

The situation in Japan is obviously completely different, since the government has a stake in a tobacco company. I would not even try to disagree with you here.

Maciamo
Aug 23, 2004, 15:41
The situation in Japan is obviously completely different, since the government has a stake in a tobacco company. I would not even try to disagree with you here.

Not just a stake. Japan Tobacco was a state monopoly until 1985. It is now a public company two-thirds owned by the Japanese Finance Ministry.
It is the 3rd largest Tobacco company in the world, has subsidiaries in 120 countries and owns brands such as Mild Seven, Seven Stars, Winston, Camel or Salem. All this originally started as a state enterprise and monopoly with the tax money, instead of discouraging smoking. We will never see tobacco ads prohibited or serious government campaign against smoking as long as the government will be so deeply involved in this business.

That reminds me of Jon Woronoff (http://www.wa-pedia.com/shop/showproduct.php?product=274)'s words that in Japan, "the Ministry of Health does what it can for pharmaceutical companies and physicians (not their patients), the Minisry of Agriculture looks after the farmers (not the consumers)", and so on for each ministry. Did I mention that Japan Tobacco (http://www.jti.co.jp/JTI_E/outline/pharma1.html) also has a pharmaceuticals branch ? The most ironic would be if they produced medecine against lung cancer, while being sponsored by the Ministry of Health ! :mad: Business is business, as the Japanese would say (and morals has nothing to do with business).

Ewok85
Aug 23, 2004, 15:43
The anti tobacco campaign here is amazing compared to japan. No advertising, no smoking in restaurants and pubs, soon to be no smoking in public places and clubs. Also do displaying of tobacco products, only the prices so they need to be away from public viewing. They also have a great series of TV ads of smokers lungs being cutup, or how much tar is produced a year in your lungs, shots of what damamge is done to areteries etc, really gruesome stuff. Packs contain compulsary warnings "Smoking Kills" "Smoking while pregnant can be fatal" etc etc.

They might have some of the tv ads on the site, http://www.quit.org.au/

nekosasori
Aug 23, 2004, 17:46
It seems that you completely misunderstand the purpose of taxing alcohol and tobacco. Far from promoting them, they are trying their best to discourage consumers by rising prices, and using this tax money for other projects.

My original point was that taxes make money for government, and as bossel said, taxing is not overtly discouraging the public from drinking or smoking. The statement I was responding to was "Many Western governments make money out of alcohol and/or tobacco." (where you asked for examples). It was irrelevant what the money is being used for (mainly health care in Ireland, not that I actually have benefited at all from it because it's so badly organized and poorly executed); the fact remains that the government gain revenue from people buying alcohol and tabacco.

On the other hand, I agree that western countries seem to be stepping up efforts to at least curb smoking. I think it's only recently that women in Japan have been gently encouraged to stop smoking (and drink less) while pregnant. I'd be interested to know the rates of lung cancer in Japan compared with Europe, actually.

Reiku
Aug 24, 2004, 03:38
Well, I haven't read every post in here yet, (I just skimmed after the first page) but I thought I should post a response while it was still fresh in my mind--as opposed to wading through 43 posts when I've been up for >checks clock< 20 hrs.

I think part of the differance between the east and the west is the issue of age. The U.S. in particular is only a few hundred years old, while some asian cultures have histories going back thousands of years. As an "old man" myself, (I feel old anyway ;-)) I know that as one ages, their outlook on life becomes increasingly pragmatic and cynical...

...or rather, it becomes so pragmatic that it appears cynical.

Many moral issues look quite different when veiwed from a purely logical perspective--often certain things raise instinctive "red flags" when they could actually be benificial to a society.

Take lying and infidelity for example:

Which is worse? Always being honest even when it hurts people or being considerate of other's feelings?

Without lies, society would collapse, and as for cheating on your spouse...

...the thing is, human beings have several million years of evolution hammering at the back of their brain telling them to reproduce with as many healthy mates as possible--you can't just turn it off like a switch. Relationships are hard to maintain, and an occasional affair can make all the difference.

Lets face it, nothing really bugs you when you're sexually contented; but a couple that forces themselves to stay faithfull will eventually start resenting each other--sometimes leading to divorce or even murder.

I don't think the Japanese feel that lying is perfectly OK--it's just that they recognize it's social importance and would rather people be happy and full of it than honest and at each other's throats.

It's the same with many of these seemingly cynical or shallow values. The Japanese have very high regard for honesty, honor, and morally noble conduct, but they recognize that for a society to function there must be a balance between everything--including right and wrong.

We're not saints, we're animals--and every time we forget that tragedy follows.

Maciamo
Aug 24, 2004, 11:35
I think part of the differance between the east and the west is the issue of age. The U.S. in particular is only a few hundred years old, while some asian cultures have histories going back thousands of years.

I am sorry, but I will have to disagree with all my heart on this.

First, the US is only one country representing "the West", and most of the others are to be found in Europe. What is more, and that is one of the most common mistakes made by Americans, US history does not start in 1776. People did not just spring up from nowhere, and neither did god create the American people at that time. Those people who fought for their independence were already for the most living there, and their forefathers came from Europe (mostly UK, Ireland, Germany...). In the same way as French history does not start at the French revolution, or not even at the first Frank kingdom with Clovis in the 5th century, but with the Romans, Celts, and Cro-Magnon men before that, American history starts in Europe, and the US would never have existed if it hadn't inherited the culture, values and technologies of Europe. That is why, we can frankly say that US history includes Ancient Greece and Rome, and ultimately even Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, which all influenced the Greco-Roman civilization. So the US has a longer history even than China.

Secondly, as a matter of fact, in the whole of East Asia (including South-East Asia) only China has a history which can rival that of Europe in length. But even China, which has the earliest signs of agriculture, was backward when Greece had already advanced cities like Knossos (which already had running water around 1500 BC) or Troy (around 1200BC) or even invented the Olympic Games in 776BC, while the first emperor of a unified China only came in 221BC.

Thirdly, we are talking about Japan, and Japan was the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice (not until the 1st or 2nd century AD). In addition, Japan did not have any writing system until the 6th century, and no proper government (something more than tribes with a chieftain) until the 8th century (Nara). In comparison, most of Europe (including England and parts of Germany) had inherited the Roman legal and political system, the Roman alphabet, literature, theatre and rhetoric, advanced architecture and iron weapons and armours, all by the time Japan started cultivating rice. The Roman empire had already fallen apart, and mediaeval kingdoms had already started 2 hundred years before Japan had its first capital and government in Nara.

So why are you arguing that "Asian cultures" have a longer history than Western ones ? It equals to saying that China has a short history because it was officially founded in 1949, after the Communist revolution (like many US citizens would say that the US only start in 1776 !).

Nakan
Aug 24, 2004, 12:18
Thirdly, we are talking about Japan, and Japan was the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice (not until the 1st or 2nd century AD). In addition, Japan did not have any writing system until the 6th century, and no proper government (something more than tribes with a chieftain) until the 8th century (Nara).
I don't know whether or not Japan is "the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice". But, you are definitely wrong about the date "1st or 2nd century AD".
http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/kenkyuu/shinpo/fujio.html
http://www.kurokome.com/dennrai.htm

And the oldest record of Japanese language ever discovered is 稲荷山古墳出土鉄剣銘(Inscription on iron sword discovered in Inariyama kofun) which is the 5th century's product.

I think ordinary scholars of Japanse history consider 大化の改新(Taika no kaishin) in 645 as the establishment of centralization, namely the end of tribal country.


Secondly, as a matter of fact, in the whole of East Asia (including South-East Asia) only China has a history which can rival that of Europe in length.
Only China in East Asia has a history which can rival that of Greece in length.



But even China, which has the earliest signs of agriculture, was backward when Greece had already advanced cities like Knossos (which already had running water around 1500 BC) or Troy (around 1200BC) or even invented the Olympic Games in 776BC, while the first emperor of a unified China only came in 221BC.

Don't you know 殷墟(inkyo), the capital city of 殷(In) dynasty? Before the first emperor "unified" China, there had existed kingdoms mostly governing broader area than the entire Greece(Crete island? it's tiny).

Maciamo
Aug 24, 2004, 13:11
I don't know whether or not Japan is "the latest country in Asia to cultivate rice". But, you are definitely wrong about the date "1st or 2nd century AD".
http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/kenkyuu/shinpo/fujio.html
http://www.kurokome.com/dennrai.htm
http://www.jomon.or.jp/2.html

And the oldest record of Japanese language ever discovered is 稲荷山古墳出土鉄剣銘(Inscription on iron sword discovered in Inariyama kofun) which is the 5th century's product.

I think ordinary scholars of Japanse history consider 大化の改新(Taika no kaishin) in 645 as the establishment of centralization, namely the end of tribal country.

You are confusing the presence of rice (crop imported from other Asian countries) and its cultivation. Or maybe I should have been more specified when I said "rice cultivation". Rice was probably imported to Japan around 1000BC, but wasn't widely grown, and was only cultivated in dry-fields and marshes, not in paddies. Let me cite Kenneth G. Henshall from his book A Histoy of Japan : from stone age to superpower (http://www.wa-pedia.com/shop/showproduct.php?product=55&sort=7&cat=12&page=1) (page 6) :

"Many present-day Japanese make much of the nation's association with rice and assume it has been grown there from time immemorial, but in fact Japan was the last of the Asian nations to adopt rice cultivation."

then page 8 :

"Around 300BC Japan was effectively ivaded. immigrants arrived in number from the continent, immigrants difference in appearence and culture from the Jomon people.
...
Their culture included technology such as bronze and iron, and was also more rice-based than that of Japan.
...
At first it was though that rice had been brought by the immigrants, but this is known to be an oversimplification. Rice had been introduced almost a thousand years earlier. However, it was during the Yayoi period that rice first became established on any significant scale, particularily paddies and particularily in the south and est of the country...
...
The spread of rice cultivation, like the spread of bronze and iron, reflected the probable movement of the immigrants. From the south-west it moved fairly quickly to the middle of Honshu by about the first century AD, but was slower to extend further north."



Don't you know 殷墟(inkyo), the capital sity of 殷(In) dynasty? Before the first emperor "unified" China, there had existed kingdoms mostly governing broader area than the entire Greece(Crete island? it's tiny).

Was Yinshu (Inkyo in Japanese) bigger or most sophisticated than Knossos or Troy ? I doubt it. It's only famous for the oracle bones. Then, if the area it controlled was bigger, the city itslef was probably not huge (from what archeologist found).

Nakan
Aug 24, 2004, 13:14
No, I'm not confusing, and I recognize the difference between 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) and 水稲(rice cultivated in water field). But 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) is also rice. And it had been "cultivated" long before the beginning of cultivation of 水稲(rice cultivated in water field).
And Even 水稲(rice cultivated in water field) already cultivated in BC.

http://www.tamagawa.ac.jp/sisetu/kyouken/nakazato/

I think your(Westerner's) information is too old.


*By the way, I'm sorry, I have edited my previous post.

Maciamo
Aug 24, 2004, 17:20
No, I'm not confusing, and I recognize the difference between 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) and 水稲(rice cultivated in water field). But 陸稲(rice cultivated in dry field) is also rice. And it had been "cultivated" long before the beginning of cultivation of 水稲(rice cultivated in water field).
And Even 水稲(rice cultivated in water field) already cultivated in BC.

http://www.tamagawa.ac.jp/sisetu/kyouken/nakazato/

I think your(Westerner's) information is too old.


Ok, ok. So you have the latest archeological evidence that rice was cultivated in paddies in 350BC in Kyushu, and around 200BC in some parts of the Kanto. But that doesn't change much to the fact that Japan was one of the last countries (if not the last) in Asia to cultivate rice in paddies, nor that agriculture came to Europe long before Japan. Just look at the history of Britain, one of the last places in Europe to adopt agriculture (source (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Ancient_Britain)):

"Around 4,500 BC the first farming settlements began to emerge, as immigrants from Europe brought farming skills with them. By 3,500 BC farming settlements existed in most of Britain."



Only China in East Asia has a history which can rival that of Greece in length.

But Ancient Greece was not the tiny country it is now (and China was only about half its present size). Greece included settlements all around the Black Sea (in today's Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey...), all along the Western and Southern coast of Turkey, most of Southern Italy (shared with Carthagenians from Phoenicia, present-day Lebanon), and other places in the South of France (Nice, Marseilles, Montpellier were all Greek cities), and Catalonia (near Barcelona). So it streched on an area as wide as present-day China (check on a map, from the Caucasus to Spain), eventhough it was always less populated than China.

Add to this the even older presence of the Phoenicians (influenced by the Assyrian and Babylonian cultures), in the South of Spain (the oldest European city, Gades/Cadiz is in Spain, not Greece).

Of course, we know as much about the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Central and Western Europe as of the Chinese "kingdoms" of the same period. And that is also part of European history. Paris and London were both originally Celtic towns long before the Romans came. The name "Paris" come from Celtic tribe name "Parii". Isn't that a compelling evidence of the continuity from the Antiquity to this day ?

Then the relation of modern countries with Ancient Greece and Rome so strong that they are considered as the founders of European or Western civilization. Of course, you could argue that China had a similar influence on Japan. But do Japanese study Ancient Chinese history as part of Japanese history, in the same way that all Europeans start with Greece and Rome ? Maybe they should, although most Japanese do not want to be considered as offspring of the Chinese (but the early Yayoi era immigration from the mainland to Japan proves it).

Reiku
Aug 25, 2004, 00:54
LOL, I knew I was going to get yelled at for that one. ^_^

Now that I've got everyone all riled up, perhaps I should clarify a few things:

I am well aware that the U.S. is only a very small part of "The West", but since it is the part I am most familliar with I thought it would be best to use it as an example instead of a civilization I could not accurately date.

On the other hand, while Japan itself is relatively young, it has retained much closer ties to it's past than the US has--the majority of US society has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background, with the exception of certain ethnic groups who retain closer ties to their heritage than to the U.S.'s dubious "culture".

I should also point out that I was referring to the age of a civilization not a particular chunk of land--using anceint greece as an example is pointless for something like this because the anceint greek civilization fell quite some time ago and was later replaced by a new civilization. One could argue that the same thing has happened to Japan, but Nihon stilll retains many cultural aspects both from it's own history and from the much older history of China--while Greece (as well as most other western civilizations) has undergone several complete transformations.

Similarly, judging the age of a culture based on it's level of advancement is downright prejudice--what about the Aborigone from Austrailia? (or the Japanese Ainu for that matter...) Regardless of what crops a culture harvests--or even if they harvest crops at all--a civilization can still develop a deep cultural foundation that it's morals and beliefs spring from.

Ultimately, the basic moral foundation of asia has remained in place more or less throughout the history of it's inhabitation--while most western cultures are rebuilt from the ground up every few hundered years.

(personally, I think your responses were less motivated by the facts and more by the instincive reaction to my essentially saying that western civilization was a bunch of young idealist punks while eastern civilization was the wise old men who knew how to make things work...

...sorry about that, but manipulating the young into shooting their mouths off is one of the favorite passtimes of the old and cynical. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v294/ReikuHiteruo/Emoticons/icon_twisted.gif)

Maciamo
Aug 25, 2004, 01:33
On the other hand, while Japan itself is relatively young, it has retained much closer ties to it's past than the US has--the majority of US society has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background, with the exception of certain ethnic groups who retain closer ties to their heritage than to the U.S.'s dubious "culture".

I should also point out that I was referring to the age of a civilization not a particular chunk of land--using anceint greece as an example is pointless for something like this because the anceint greek civilization fell quite some time ago and was later replaced by a new civilization. One could argue that the same thing has happened to Japan, but Nihon stilll retains many cultural aspects both from it's own history and from the much older history of China--while Greece (as well as most other western civilizations) has undergone several complete transformations.

Are you saying that Germans do not feel ties with the ancient Germanic tribes from which they derive ? Or that Italians do not consider themselves as the heirs of the Romans ? Or that modern Greeks regard themselves as completely a different civilization than ancient Greece (but still call the Olympics their invention) ? Well. if you ask them, I sincerely doubt that their reaction will be very different from what Japanese say they feel toward their ancestors.

In the same way, the adjective "Gallic" is still used to refer to something typically "French", from France's ancient name "Gallia" (still used in modern Greek language, btw). "Britain" comes from Latin "Britannia". I don't know in the US, but Latin and Ancient Greek are still taught in I think every (Western ?) European school, and my parents' generation almost all had to learn Latin for about 6 years (if you have ever seen some of the Monty Python's movies, you will understand what I mean).

We use everyday Roman alphabet. English, which comes from the Ancient Anglo-saxon language (outside the Roman empire), has adopted over half of its vocabulary from Latin and Greek. We still quote or learn Greek philosophers (who hasn't heard of Socrates, Plato or Aristotles ?). And we still make movies (not any, but blockbusters) about the Romans (gladiators or various emperors) or Greek legends (Troy, Ulysses, Jason, the Titans, Medusa, Perseus, etc.). The US is a very good example, not just for movies, but architecturally, with neo-classical courts of justice, museums, parliaments, Capitol, White House, etc. Why so much Graeco-Roman influence if it "has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background", as you say ?

Then, just looking at names, which reflect a good deal of the culture (and continuity over the centuries, across language groups, and when civilizations collapse and regenerate), I see that most countries of Latin languages still use Roman names, and almost all of them exist and are commonly used in English too (have a look at this short list (http://freereg.rootsweb.com/howto/latinnames.htm)).

So I personally do not feel like Westerners have lost touch with their ancient (mostly Graeco-Roman) roots, even in the US. I would even go further and say that these roots are so strong and vivid in everyday life, that people from other completely different cultures like Japan are now aware of quite a bit through Western and mostly American influence (eg. they know Greco-Roman gods, some philosophers or Roman emperors, they can read and write in "romaji", build Graeco-Roman style architecture, etc.).

Ewok85
Aug 25, 2004, 01:34
Similarly, judging the age of a culture based on it's level of advancement is downright prejudice--what about the Aborigone from Austrailia? (or the Japanese Ainu for that matter...) Regardless of what crops a culture harvests--or even if they harvest crops at all--a civilization can still develop a deep cultural foundation that it's morals and beliefs spring from.


Theres some key words being used here; culture and civilisation. The aborigines were tribes of people, many many tribes who lived seperate from the other tribes. You cant deny they had culture, but was there civilisation? Not quite.

Reiku
Aug 25, 2004, 02:53
My, what is it with all these off topic arguments in here? We were supposed to be discussing the differance between Western and Japanese values--not the age or origin of a culture.

(Why do people always attack something that has no relavance to someone's argument when they can't attack the main point?)

Well, since it's been brought up...


Are you saying that Germans do not feel ties with the ancient Germanic tribes from which they derive ? Or that Italians do not consider themselves as the heirs of the Romans ? Or that modern Greeks regard themselves as completely a different civilization than ancient Greece (but still call the Olympics their invention) ? Well. if you ask them, I sincerely doubt that their reaction will be very different from what Japanese say they feel toward their ancestors.

What a people consider themselves to be and what they actually are can be two completely different things. The fact is that whatever the modern Greeks may beleive, they did not invent the Olympics--they are merely imitating the ancient Greeks just like all the other countries that currently participate in the modern Olympic Games. Likewise, the Itallians may consider themselves the heir to the Romans and the Germans may feel a connection to the tribal cultures that preceded them--but they are not the same civilizations. Even a cursory glance reveals vast differances in the moral, social, and philosophical foundations of these societies compared to their historical counterparts. This is not to say that the values changed over time to adapt to new situations like Japan--but rather that the core beliefs upon which they are founded have changed.


In the same way, the adjective "Gallic" is still used to refer to something typically "French", from France's ancient name "Gallia" (still used in modern Greek language, btw). "Britain" comes from Latin "Britannia". I don't know in the US, but Latin and Ancient Greek are still taught in I think every (Western ?) European school, and my parents' generation almost all had to learn Latin for about 6 years (if you have ever seen some of the Monty Python's movies, you will understand what I mean).

Again, youre not talking about the same civilization--here your talking about anthropology. When used in this sense the term "Gallic" refers to genetic descent--not culture. After all the term "homonid" still applies to modern humans--but that doesn't mean we share the same cultural foundationas a Cro-Magnon or a Neanderthal.

(Though sometimes I wonder... http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v294/ReikuHiteruo/Emoticons/grin.gif)

As for language, that is merely an example of cultural borrowing. The anceint greek and latin languages were a good thing, so many different cultures copied them and adapted them into their own style.


We use everyday Roman alphabet. English, which comes from the Ancient Anglo-saxon language (outside the Roman empire), has adopted over half of its vocabulary from Latin and Greek. We still quote or learn Greek philosophers (who hasn't heard of Socrates, Plato or Aristotles ?). And we still make movies (not any, but blockbusters) about the Romans (gladiators or various emperors) or Greek legends (Troy, Ulysses, Jason, the Titans, Medusa, Perseus, etc.). The US is a very good example, not just for movies, but architecturally, with neo-classical courts of justice, museums, parliaments, Capitol, White House, etc. Why so much Graeco-Roman influence if it "has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background", as you say ?

Absolutely, as with the Olympic Games--it is merely the imitation of another culture.

We use gunpowder too, and that comes from easern civilizations--are you suggesting Brittan is descended from ancient China merely because they decided tea and explosives were good inventions and began using them? Since you started this thread to point out the differinces between those cultures I would think not.

Borrowing art and inventions from other cultures is a fairly common practice--but it does not mean that the ideals of the origional culture are borrowed as well.


Then, just looking at names, which reflect a good deal of the culture (and continuity over the centuries, across language groups, and when civilizations collapse and regenerate), I see that most countries of Latin languages still use Roman names, and almost all of them exist and are commonly used in English too (have a look at this short list (http://freereg.rootsweb.com/howto/latinnames.htm)).

So I personally do not feel like Westerners have lost touch with their ancient (mostly Graeco-Roman) roots, even in the US. I would even go further and say that these roots are so strong and vivid in everyday life, that people from other completely different cultures like Japan are now aware of quite a bit through Western and mostly American influence (eg. they know Greco-Roman gods, some philosophers or Roman emperors, they can read and write in "romaji", build Graeco-Roman style architecture, etc.).

Again, we're talking about influence--not descent. We also borrow from eastern culture and they borrow from us--but as you pointed out, there is a very large difference in the foundation of our values and beliefs.


Theres some key words being used here; culture and civilisation. The aborigines were tribes of people, many many tribes who lived seperate from the other tribes. You cant deny they had culture, but was there civilisation? Not quite.

A more bigoted remark I couldn't have hoped for, Ewok85. You've proved my point excellently--thank you.

Denying that a group of people has a civilization simply because they don't live the way you do is the very definition of prejudice. With most tribal peoples, there are often many seperate and very different goups--not unlike the various cultures of Euorope--if they are sufficiently different, then they might be considered seperate civilizations; but merely being made up of fewer members or being less technologically advanced does not make it any less of a civilization. Some people live with the land, others change it to suit their needs--this is merely another example of the differances between various cultures.

jeisan
Aug 25, 2004, 05:06
A more bigoted remark I couldn't have hoped for, Ewok85. You've proved my point excellently--thank you.

Denying that a group of people has a civilization simply because they don't live the way you do is the very definition of prejudice. With most tribal peoples, there are often many seperate and very different goups--not unlike the various cultures of Euorope--if they are sufficiently different, then they might be considered seperate civilizations; but merely being made up of fewer members or being less technologically advanced does not make it any less of a civilization. Some people live with the land, others change it to suit their needs--this is merely another example of the differances between various cultures.

i second ewok's statement, culture and civilization are two very different things dont confuse them with each other.

tribal peoples don't have civilization. its not something they believe in or even want. there are no rich or poor in a tribe, as is required in a civilization. civilization is a hierarchal social structure, not a tribal one. those at the top of the civilization hierarchy live in great luxury, enjoying perfect leisure and having the best of everything. a larger class of people below them live very well and had nothing to complain about. but the masses at the bottom of the hierarchy dont like it at all, they work and live like pack animals, struggling just to stay alive.

in a tribe everyone pulls their weight and does their particular job for the group and everyone is equal, granted there may be a cheif or shaman or elder but they still do their part. in tribal communities the food isnt kept under lock and key as it is in civilization. in the whole civilized world food is owned by someone, and if you want some you'll have to buy it. you have to pay for the most fundamental need, the food which you need to survive.

tribal peoples have culture, and lot of other things but they do not have civilization.

bossel
Aug 25, 2004, 05:09
-the majority of US society has been thoroughly uprooted and seperated from it's cultural background,
Separated? Just because they don't think or know of it, doesn't mean that the heritage isn't there.


-using anceint greece as an example is pointless for something like this because the anceint greek civilization fell quite some time ago and was later replaced by a new civilization. One could argue that the same thing has happened to Japan, but Nihon stilll retains many cultural aspects both from it's own history and from the much older history of China--while Greece (as well as most other western civilizations) has undergone several complete transformations.
Complete transformations? When & how? Maybe Greece has changed more, but there is still continuity.


Ultimately, the basic moral foundation of asia has remained in place more or less throughout the history of it's inhabitation--while most western cultures are rebuilt from the ground up every few hundered years.
How do you know about the moral foundation of Asia -let's say- 10000 years ago? For the most part of history we don't have any record of moral values. Only with the advent of writing some 3000 years age this starts. Values changed a lot even in the past 3000 years. If you'd somehow transport a "Chinese" from 3000 years ago into modernity, he would be quite shocked by the behaviour of modern Chinese.


the Itallians may consider themselves the heir to the Romans and the Germans may feel a connection to the tribal cultures that preceded them--but they are not the same civilizations. Even a cursory glance reveals vast differances in the moral, social, and philosophical foundations of these societies compared to their historical counterparts. This is not to say that the values changed over time to adapt to new situations like Japan--but rather that the core beliefs upon which they are founded have changed.
Of course modern civilizations are not the same as those in the same place in ancient times. Almost all changed over time. But that doesn't mean that there is no connection to the past, cultures developed over time. It's very well possible to see modern European culture as a continuation of ancient Greek culture, you could even track it back to Sumer.


Again, youre not talking about the same civilization--here your talking about anthropology. When used in this sense the term "Gallic" refers to genetic descent--not culture.
"Gallic" means (according to M-W) "of or relating to Gaul or France". Hence Maciamo's usage is OK.


After all the term "homonid" still applies to modern humans--but that doesn't mean we share the same cultural foundationas a Cro-Magnon or a Neanderthal.
Cro-Magnon were "modern humans".


As for language, that is merely an example of cultural borrowing. The anceint greek and latin languages were a good thing, so many different cultures copied them and adapted them into their own style.
True to a degree. Actually, learning Latin or Greek at school is more a leftover of 19th century Graeco- & Romanophilia. If you talk about moder Romance languages, though, that's not quite so true.


Borrowing art and inventions from other cultures is a fairly common practice--but it does not mean that the ideals of the origional culture are borrowed as well.
True again, but in case of ancient Greece & Rome, there is actual evidence of continuation in Europe.


Denying that a group of people has a civilization simply because they don't live the way you do is the very definition of prejudice. [...] but merely being made up of fewer members or being less technologically advanced does not make it any less of a civilization.
That depends on the definition of civilization, just look at M-W (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=civilization&x=0&y=0).


Some people live with the land, others change it to suit their needs--this is merely another example of the differances between various cultures.
Which human civilization did not change the land to suit their needs? Surely not Australian aborigenes, they changed it a lot.

All of the above doesn't mean that IMO it's very useful to discuss the age of cultures. Essentially all human cultures derive from those few people who decided to use language some 40000 years ago (you can go further back, depending on which feature you focus on). But as a historical discussion, it can be quite entertaining.

blessed
Aug 25, 2004, 05:22
...maciamo, i see what you are saying... (cool post) :D

but: you said generally, it is considered that individualism is deemed juvinile, but laws are made without morals only to keep public order, meaning many things are legal in Japan that are not in the west. This leaves many more personal freedoms and hence more decisions. My question is this: Are you expected to judge individualy what is right for you, or should you follow the group?

e.g. should you decide prostitution is wrong and not indulge yourself in it, or just do what everyone else does?

from your examples, it seems that following the group is the way, but there is a small problem:

if you personaly decide that it is wrong and then lie (deemeed socialy acceptable by example 1) about your opinion, then you are still part of the group as you are not distancing yourself in any way as no one knows you differ in opinion...

So, basically, although group behaviour is encouraged, individualism is not discouraged if you are individual in thought and not in word.

(i dont think this lead anywhere, but im just interested whether you agree) :D

.................................................. .................................................

anyways... I think that the difference between east (not solely Japan) and west is this:

in the east, people do things for the process.

the tea ceremony does not achieve much (in this i mean, i can make a fine cup of tea 10 times faster), its the process that counts.
people don't jump from job to job, company to company in japan, they mainly stay in one for their whole life. therefore i would say although some final result is expected (money), it is not deemed as important as security otherwise people would seek better pay, working conditions themselves.
no need for promotion, so no final aim.

in the west, people do things for a final aim.

security in a job is relatively unimportant, pretty much everyone aims for higher and higher, leaving a company if possible. one's final aim is chairman.
Security although an aim, is not as long lasting as promotion: once you're educated and in your first or maybe second job at 25, you can arguably stay secure for your whole life (you're aim is achieved and then you work to work). on the other hand you can aim for promotion till you die.
from my experience, one of the few areas where the process is important to westerners, is sports.
But still, if i play tennis, football or anything else with my english or american friends, then they usually seek a match, a result. when i play with japanese, thai or chinese friends, it usually ends up more of a joke around than a competition.



This is based on difference in religions mainly, in my opinion. this is what defines the culture.
in the west, christianity: ultimately, your whole life is unimportant, your aim is to get into heaven.
in the east, buddhism: live a good life. (correct me on this if i'm wrong as i'm not that well informed on this religion yet)

cicatriz esp
Aug 25, 2004, 07:57
On the other hand, while Japan itself is relatively young, it has retained much closer ties to it's past than the US has-

If you go to Tokyo or Osaka, you will not be able to disagree more with that statement. In some ways the people of those cities are even more "American" than Americans are.

Maciamo
Aug 25, 2004, 11:27
My, what is it with all these off topic arguments in here? We were supposed to be discussing the differance between Western and Japanese values--not the age or origin of a culture.

The age and origin of a culture is vital to understand the differences in modern societies. Why do you think people study history ?




What a people consider themselves to be and what they actually are can be two completely different things. The fact is that whatever the modern Greeks may beleive, they did not invent the Olympics--they are merely imitating the ancient Greeks...

Genetically, there is a strong between Ancient and Modern Germans, Italians, and still a considerable one with Greece. If you mean they did not invent the Olympics because it was their ancestors who did, then yes, but that arguing pointlessly. If you mean that Ancient Greeks have no blood connection with modern Greeks, then you are totally mistaken. If you mean by civilization the culture heritage and language spoken by a people, then again ancient and modern Greeks are the same civilization (have you ever learn ancient and/or modern Greek ? They are so similar that if you know the former you can understand the latter easily).

But then, you could argue that the language should be exactly the same, in which case a country like the UK (or even only England) or Germany or China are not one "civilization" because there are so many dialects (some unintelligible) in the same county. If the most widely spoken form of a language in a country is what you mean, then the Romans are not even the same civilization in 1AD or 400AD, as they passed from "classical Latin" to "vulgar Latin" (the latter being much closer to modern Romance languages).



As for language, that is merely an example of cultural borrowing. The anceint greek and latin languages were a good thing, so many different cultures copied them and adapted them into their own style.

As Bossel said, over 200 million European (about half) speak a Romance language today, which derive directly from Latin (no borrowings, just dialects of vulgar Latin).



We use gunpowder too, and that comes from easern civilizations--are you suggesting Brittan is descended from ancient China merely because they decided tea and explosives were good inventions and began using them? Since you started this thread to point out the differinces between those cultures I would think not.

You are referring to material uses of some objects (gunpowder, tea) or some fashions (tea). I am talking about deep cultural elements such as language, philosophy, feeling of one's roots and even genetical continuity.



Denying that a group of people has a civilization simply because they don't live the way you do is the very definition of prejudice. With most tribal peoples, there are often many seperate and very different goups--not unlike the various cultures of Euorope--if they are sufficiently different, then they might be considered seperate civilizations.

You seem to have no idea of what the word "civilization" really means. But don't worry, it's a very common mistake. As was said above, a civilization needs a particular social structure, a government, a legal system, one or several official languages (used at the government), etc. Actually, if it were limited to that it could just be called "country", but civilization include very strong cultural elements that influences other countries, or make several countries feel part of the same civilization. So that is why I wouldn't call France or Germany or the US or Australia "civilization" as they are all part of the Western Civilization (which roots are Graeco-Roman). In the same way, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even Nepal are part of the Indian Civilization, even if they are different countries and in bad terms nowadays (they are still very similar on many respects).

chikazukiyasui
Aug 25, 2004, 13:24
The age and origin of a culture is vital to understand the differences in modern societies.

I don't think that's true. Especially as ideas change so rapidly these days. For instance, someone said a difference between Japan and "the West" is that in "the West", there's no job loyalty. Well, that's not true in all Western countries, and even where it is true, it is a trend that only emerged relatively very recently (since the 1970s). If these are the differences we're going to be talking about, there doesn't seem to be much point in discussing what happened a thousand years or more ago.

The biggest cultural differences between the West and Japan that have been identified and seem to be real are individualism, and some moral ideas. Western individualism is relatively modern, I think, probably only going back to the 18th century and the Romantic era, and the moral ideas seem to be rooted in Christianity. How far back they go, I don't know.


Why do you think people study history ?

I don't know. I don't know why people study entomology, either.


You seem to have no idea of what the word "civilization" really means.

Do any of us? I don't agree with the person who said that it is a sign of bigotry say that Australian Aborigines didn't have a civilization. I don't feel somehow that you can have a civilization without cities ("civis", Latin, = "townsman")


So that is why I wouldn't call France or Germany or the US or Australia "civilization" as they are all part of the Western Civilization (which roots are Graeco-Roman). In the same way, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even Nepal are part of the Indian Civilization, even if they are different countries and in bad terms nowadays (they are still very similar on many respects).

I wonder if these distinct civilizations still exist? Or is there just one great big civilization, with different parts retaining vestiges of earlier, distinct civilizations?

Maciamo
Aug 25, 2004, 15:12
I don't think that's true. Especially as ideas change so rapidly these days. For instance, someone said a difference between Japan and "the West" is that in "the West", there's no job loyalty. Well, that's not true in all Western countries, and even where it is true, it is a trend that only emerged relatively very recently (since the 1970s).

Agreed that job loyalty is a very misinformed way of differentiating Japan (as not only was it common in Europe, but it is also disappearing in Japan nowadays).


The biggest cultural differences between the West and Japan that have been identified and seem to be real are individualism, and some moral ideas. Western individualism is relatively modern, I think, probably only going back to the 18th century and the Romantic era, and the moral ideas seem to be rooted in Christianity.

What make you think European individualism is so new, when Spanish conquistadors left in tiny groups to get their share of the new world, without being ordered by anybody to do it (so just of their own selfish initiative). Same for 15th cent. Portuguese navigators and explorers, or 16-17th cent. French fur traders in Canada and Mississipi valley. Same for all those British or Irish settlers going all by themselves (or at best with their family) to the New World make a new life. But even long before, crusaders were notorious for deviating from their mission and taking "friendly" cities like Constantinople just due to their unrefrained ambition and individualism. What about 9-10th cent. Vikings just going where ever they pleased in Europe without any direction or order from any government. What about earlier Germanic tribes taking the initiative to invade parts of the Roman empire and create their small almost "personal" kingdoms. What about 6 to 4 cent. BC Greek philosophers thinking all by themselves, isolated from society, or those Greek soldiers like Leonidas or Alexander the Great fighting in their own unique ways, because of their very independent thinking. Did I mention independent Greek city-states that had so much pride and individualism that they never managed to create a unified country until outsiders invaded them ?

These are all examples that Western individualism is by no means new, but characterizes Western culture since its earliest times.

AS for moral ideals, I think it predates Christianity (and therefore Europe was a propicious ground for its spread). Greek philospohers or Roman lawyers (like Ciceron) show greater moral concerns than anything found in East Asia, even nowadays.

Nakan
Aug 25, 2004, 19:03
Was Yinshu (Inkyo in Japanese) bigger or most sophisticated than Knossos or Troy ? I doubt it. It's only famous for the oracle bones.

No, there were bronze products, vast relic of palace and houses, tombs of kings, etcetc.


Then, if the area it controlled was bigger, the city itslef was probably not huge (from what archeologist found).

Really? Who said that? For example, Rome in the golden age was probably one of the largest cities in the world. As you know, Roman empire controlled very vast area,


Ok, ok. So you have the latest archeological evidence that rice was cultivated in paddies in 350BC in Kyushu, and around 200BC in some parts of the Kanto. But that doesn't change much to the fact that Japan was one of the last countries (if not the last) in Asia to cultivate rice in paddies, nor that agriculture came to Europe long before Japan. Just look at the history of Britain, one of the last places in Europe to adopt agriculture (source):


Oh yes, I don’t deny it.  Thank you for the information.


But Ancient Greece was not the tiny country it is now (and China was only about half its present size). Greece included settlements all around the Black Sea (in today's Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey...), all along the Western and Southern coast of Turkey, most of Southern Italy (shared with Carthagenians from Phoenicia, present-day Lebanon), and other places in the South of France (Nice, Marseilles, Montpellier were all Greek cities), and Catalonia (near Barcelona).


Yes. Yet, the beginning of emigration by the Greek was much latter than the era of Mycenaean(BC16 to BC12). They began to emigrate in about BC 800 or so.
By the time the Greek began to spread on Europe, 黄河文明(Huang-he civilization) already spread to north, east, west, and south China, and put 長江文明(Chang Jiang civilization) together.
The area the Greek directly controlled was not so large, because as you know basically the Greek made only city-states. Generally they only occupied tiny area near seashore, not comparable to the territory of 周(Chou dynasty) and kingdoms in the Warring State period.

*one thing to note: of course I never deny the Greek had highly sophisticated culture comparable to those day’s China.


So it streched on an area as wide as present-day China (check on a map, from the Caucasus to Spain), eventhough it was always less populated than China.

You need check it on a map. The square measure of “present day China” is larger than the entire Europe excluding Russia. I think the square measure of Roman empire in the golden age is as large as that of Han dynasty.


Add to this the even older presence of the Phoenicians (influenced by the Assyrian and Babylonian cultures), in the South of Spain (the oldest European city, Gades/Cadiz is in Spain, not Greece).

Yes, I know about them. But their tradition is not directly related to later “Europe”, is it?


Of course, we know as much about the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Central and Western Europe as of the Chinese "kingdoms" of the same period. And that is also part of European history. Paris and London were both originally Celtic towns long before the Romans came.

Comparing “German tribes” to Chinese kingdoms is completely implausible. As of BC era, what ever did they accomplish? I think they should be compared to Korean, Central Asian people, Japanese and nomad people in Mongolia rather than to Chinese.
I know the Celtic had relatively sophisticated culture, but can we compare their culture to Chinese civilization(=黄河文明 and 長江文明) which had created their own characters before BC1300? 

About Huang-he civilization, Chang-jiang civilizartion and early kingdoms.
http://www.chinavoc.com/history/index.asp
http://www.allchinainfo.com/history/period/huanghe.html
http://www.allchinainfo.com/history/period/changjiang.html
http://www.allchinainfo.com/history/period/xia.html
http://www.allchinainfo.com/history/period/shang.html
http://www.h3.dion.ne.jp/~china/point39.html

And What kind of “Chinese kingdoms of the same period” are you talking about?

夏(Xia: legendary kingdom, the existence is debatable, but the city remain expected to be the capital was discovered in recent years)
殷/商(Yin/Shang: from BC16-BC11)
周(Chou: from BC11-BC256)
The followings are main Kngdoms and Duchies in Spring and Autumn period and the Warring State period.
秦(Ch’in: from BC771-206. *In BC221 Ch’in finished unifying all of the kingdoms and duchies.)
齊(Sei: BC1122-BC221)
晋(Shin: ?-BC376)
趙(Chou: BC403-BC222)
楚(So: ?-BC223)
燕(En:?-BC222)
魏(Gi: BC403-BC225)
韓(Kan: BC403-BC230)
呉(Go: ?-BC473)
越(Etsu: BC600-BC334)
魯(Ro: BC1055-BC249)

*I’m sorry the pronunciations of the kanji name of kingdoms except 夏, 殷, 周, 秦 are Japanese pronounciations.


Of course, you could argue that China had a similar influence on Japan. But do Japanese study Ancient Chinese history as part of Japanese history, in the same way that all Europeans start with Greece and Rome ? Maybe they should, although most Japanese do not want to be considered as offspring of the Chinese (but the early Yayoi era immigration from the mainland to Japan proves it).

I have no idea as to if it is "the same way that all Europeans start with Greece and Rome". But I think you should read Japanese history text book for yourself.

『詳説世界史』
http://www.yamakawa.co.jp/textbooks/exec/browse.cgi?isbn=4-634-70110-3
『詳説日本史』
http://www.yamakawa.co.jp/textbooks/exec/browse.cgi?isbn=4-634-70610-5

*高校の日本史と世界史の教科書で、現在おそらく最もよく使われているものです。 東京や大阪などの大都市 におすまいならば、普通の書店にも置いてあると思います(高校生の参考書コーナーなどに)。
 日本史では、国家(王朝)形成期における中国や朝鮮半島との関係、漢字の受容や、仏教・儒教の影響などそ れなりに詳しく書かれて居ますよ。 ちなみに高校では漢文(Classical Chinese)も必修です。 世界史の方では、四大文明の一つとして、また東アジアとの文化交流も詳しく 書かれています。
 ご自分でお読みになってみてはいかがでしょうか。


although most Japanese do not want to be considered as offspring of the Chinese (but the early Yayoi era immigration from the mainland to Japan proves it).

Huh??? :?

Maciamo
Aug 25, 2004, 20:25
Really? Who said that? For example, Rome in the golden age was probably one of the largest cities in the world. As you know, Roman empire controlled very vast area,

You can't compare the Roman empire with the Shang or even Zhou dynasty. The Roman Empire was very centralised, and at its largest stretches from present-day Egypt to Britain, and from Morocco to Armenia/Georgia (Caucasus mountains). The distance from Morocco or Portugal to the Caucasus is about the same as from Tajikistan to North Korea. So that is the length of modern China, but ancient China was much smaller.

Have a look at this map of the Shang dynasty (http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/ancient_china/shang.html) and this one of the Zhou dynasty (http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/ancient_china/zhou.html). The Shang kingdom was about the size of France and Spain combined, while the Zhou was a bit smaller than Western Europe (without Scandinavia), so about the same territory as the Celts, who controlled Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium, Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy and most of Spain.




The area the Greek directly controlled was not so large, because as you know basically the Greek made only city-states. Generally they only occupied tiny area near seashore, not comparable to the territory of 周(Chou dynasty) and kingdoms in the Warring State period.

As I said above, ancient China wasn't so large either, and didn't extend half as far as Greece did. In term of real land area, Alexander the Great's Empire was certianly larger than the first empire of China, under the Qin (http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/early_imperial_china/qin.html) (Qin Shih Huang di, as first emperor), as it included the whole middle-east from Greece and Turkey to Egypt and as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan. IT is more comparable to the later Han Dynasty's empire (http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/early_imperial_china/han.html) at its furthest extend. But at that time, the Roman Empire was already much bigger.



You need check it on a map. The square measure of “present day China” is larger than the entire Europe excluding Russia. I think the square measure of Roman empire in the golden age is as large as that of Han dynasty.

Check this comparative map of the Roman and Han empire (http://www.roman-empire.net/maps/empire/extent/rome-china-comparison.html). As you can see, modern China or the Roman Empire are both bigger than the Han empire, even if you add the desertic parts of Western China that were controlled during a short time by the Han.



Yes, I know about them. But their tradition is not directly related to later “Europe”, is it?

The Phoenicians and Carthagenians (the same people) were integrated to the Roman Empire after the two Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. So, in some way they are also part of the Roman heritage.


I know the Celtic had relatively sophisticated culture, but can we compare their culture to Chinese civilization(=黄河文明 and 長江文明) which had created their own characters before BC1300?

Yes, I think they can. If you compare Celtic arts (bronze sculpture, etc.) with Chinese ones of the same period, I can hardly tell the difference.

Greeks developed their first script before the Chinese. It is called the Linear A (http://www.ancientscripts.com/lineara.html) and was used by the Minoean Civilization between 2000BC and 1200BC. Celts also had their own scripts, but later (the Venetic script (http://www.ancientscripts.com/venetic.html) from 700BC and theIberian script (http://www.ancientscripts.com/iberian.html) from 4th century BC, among others).

Of course, the Celts had a mythology (神話) (http://www.loggia.com/myth/content2.html) very similar to that of the Greeks and Romans.

The BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/timelines/britain/o_neo_bronze.shtml) and British Museum (http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk/prehistory/guide/master.html) have interesting pages about the Celts.


Are you really thinking that culture of “the Celtic tribes” and “German tribes” can be comparable to that of these kingdoms and duchies?

Yes, because their technological or cultural advancement were very similar, and Zhou China (same size as Western Europe) was also composed of over 200 small kingdoms, not unlike the Celtic or Germanic ones. Then the Roman came to unify everything, in the same way as the Qin and Han unified China.



I don't have no idea as to if it is "the same way that all Europeans start with Greece and Rome". But I think you should read Japanese history text book for yourself.

I am just asking you, as a Japanese, do you feel that your roots are in China ? Do you think of the early Chinese dynasties as your country's history ?
I would for the Greeks and Romans, eventhough I am from Northern Europe (but still part of the Roman Empire).

giant_robot
Aug 26, 2004, 01:21
Ok, yes, in some part morals are based on culture, and what is wrong for some people is right to others, but there are some common points that most cultures can agree on. For example, you speak of want for material posessions being wrong as if that were purely a Western sentiment. What about Buddhism? "Desire is suffering." It's a religion supposedly embraced by Japan. I think the real issue you're describing is not so much that Japanese people have different values, but that they are amoral by their own standards.

That being said, who isn't? It's easy to go to a different country and put their actions under the microscope, but the truth of the matter is, like Emoni said, most people in the world are bad by the standards they believe in. Perhaps the difference in Japan is they are simply less ashamed of it. Perhaps they are simply more honest. I don't know, I just had to clarify that morality is really not that different the world over.

bossel
Aug 26, 2004, 03:18
The Phoenicians and Carthagenians (the same people) were integrated to the Roman Empire after the two Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. So, in some way they are also part of the Roman heritage.
Great links, Maciamo!
Adding to the above quote, Phoenicians & Greeks influenced each other in many a way. They dominated the Mediterranean at roughly the same time & had a lot of economical & cultural contacts. The Phoenicians constituted one of the main links between the cultures of Europe & the Middle East. I don't know, how far this influence went, but according to some (http://www.wolftree.freeserve.co.uk/Phoenician/Phoenicians.html), quite far. You can't really draw distinct lines between all these cultures.

But I really don't see, what the discussion about size of empires is supposed to prove. Size is not directly connected to culture. You can have high culture without an empire (as the Minoans) & you can have a huge empire with "barbarian" culture (as the Mongols).

chikazukiyasui
Aug 26, 2004, 09:32
What make you think European individualism is so new

Because people in Europe were distinctly less individualistic before the 18th century, and less still before the 15th. It seems to me that individualism begins to be noticeable in European society at the time of the Renaissance, and becomes very prominent from the Romantic period onwards. From the birth of Christianity to the beginning of the Renaissance, there doesn't seem to be much evidence of individualism. There was also no systematic idea, back then, of placing high value on the individual. For instance, the notion that the state exists to serve individuals, rather than the other way around, is an enlightenment idea.


What about earlier Germanic tribes taking the initiative to invade parts of the Roman empire and create their small almost "personal" kingdoms. What about 6 to 4 cent. BC Greek philosophers thinking all by themselves, isolated from society, or those Greek soldiers like Leonidas or Alexander the Great fighting in their own unique ways, because of their very independent thinking. Did I mention independent Greek city-states that had so much pride and individualism that they never managed to create a unified country until outsiders invaded them ?

These ancient examples of supposed individualism that you give, I have doubts about. What about Mongolia and the nomads of Tibet and Western China? Is their "individualism" not parallel to that of the Germanic peoples? Socrates has his parallel in Confucius, and Alexander has an exact parallel in Ghengis Khan.


These are all examples that Western individualism is by no means new, but characterizes Western culture since its earliest times.

Well, I'm very skeptical of your ancient examples of individualism.


AS for moral ideals, I think it predates Christianity (and therefore Europe was a propicious ground for its spread). Greek philospohers or Roman lawyers (like Ciceron) show greater moral concerns than anything found in East Asia, even nowadays.

Greek philosophers and Roman ones concern themselves with moral matters, it is true, but some were utterly skeptical about morality. And its not as if the East doesn't have its own moral philosophers. I think there are differences in ideas in the East and West that go back to the ancients (such as Confucius, the Buddha and Socrates), but some of the differences that people remark upon don't go anywhere near that far back. For instance, Western politics is almost totally shaped by the thinking of the Enlightenment (mainly 17th to 19th century), with French and British philosophers being crucial.

Maciamo
Aug 26, 2004, 12:49
What about Buddhism? "Desire is suffering." It's a religion supposedly embraced by Japan.

Modern Japanese people are certainly much more influenced by Confucianism (seniority system, hierarchy, meritocracy, etc.), or even Shintoism (in anime at least :sorry: ) than Buddhism. That is funny how most Westerners see Japan as a Buddhist country. Maybe is it because they don't know (so well) the 2 others, and Buddhism is a world religion known to be present in most of East Asia. If Modern Hindu Indians live very much according to Buddhist beliefs, as they consider it a branch of Hinduism (Buddha was Hindu, that is a fact), I can't say that East Asian, and especially Japanese, are the right receptacle for believing in an ascetic life devoid of material desire. Actually, looking in depth at the culture and mentality, I'd say that the Japanese culture is one of the most unadapted to Buddhism. But Confucianism certainly fit them to the bone, even without temple or without book. It's just innate or deeply ingrained in the culture.



Adding to the above quote, Phoenicians & Greeks influenced each other in many a way. They dominated the Mediterranean at roughly the same time & had a lot of economical & cultural contacts. The Phoenicians constituted one of the main links between the cultures of Europe & the Middle East. I don't know, how far this influence went, but according to some (http://www.wolftree.freeserve.co.uk/Phoenician/Phoenicians.html), quite far. You can't really draw distinct lines between all these cultures.

Yes, and I forgot to mention that Knossos in Crete was also a Phoenician city. As Phoenicians had some many contact and mingling with the Greeks, and were integrated into the Roman Empire, we could say that they are as much part of the Western heritage. After all, even the Greek and Roman alphabet derived from the Phoenician one (the first real alphabet in the world, while Babylonian/Assyrian and Egyptian scripts were more like kanji).


From the birth of Christianity to the beginning of the Renaissance, there doesn't seem to be much evidence of individualism.

Alright, I have to admit that the mediaeval knights had very strong family and lord-vassal ties, actually similar to that of the Japanese samurai. But, middle ages apart, we could at least say since the Renaissance and beginning of the colonization in the late 15th century.


There was also no systematic idea, back then, of placing high value on the individual.

But many soldiers, explorators, artists or thinkers cared a lot about their image, prestige and personal achievment. Pizzaro, Cortes, Columbus, Magellan, Cabral, da Vinci, Michelangello, Machiavelli, the Borgia family, etc. were all motivated by their own personal gain and success. Rather than caring about the good of the nation, even Columbus who claimed discovering the West Indies for Spain (which sponsored the expedition), was Genovan (Italian), and first asked the court of Portugal to finance his project. He couldn't care less which "country" he was working for. All that matters were the results and proving he was right. I am not going to explain for each of them, but they all lived a very individualistic life, IMHO.


For instance, the notion that the state exists to serve individuals, rather than the other way around, is an enlightenment idea.

Yes, but that is a idea related more to democracy, equality and human rights than just individualism. Actually, it was one of the first "socialist" ideas that the state should "care for the people". Before, kings and princes were only concerned about themselves, very individualistically. It may be that the Enlightment first sacrifice the selfishness of the powerful for the benefit of the weak. This has its roots in the moralistic and idealistic heritage of the West, not its individualism.

In my Opinio, the most individualistic period in Western Europe was roughly from the mid-15th to mid-18th century. After that, the concepts of democracy, equality, nation-states (19th century), etc. appeared and people felt for the first time that they acted for their nation or empire, rather than just for themselves like before. Patriotisma and nationalism rose, until it exploded in WWI, which people fought only for the glory and pride of their nation, not for themselves (who hoped waging this horrible war anyway ?).

Individualism surged again after WWI, and especially after WWII. But it is true that some European countries are nowadays less individualistic and more group-oriented (Spain, Portugal and Greece in particular).

Non European Western countries like the US or Australia had a different evolution. Individualism was at its strongest in the 19th century (Gold Rush, cow boys, the "border", etc.) . The US only started to develop a strong sense of nation made of patriotic people after WWI and WWII, I think. But in some way, the US has never reached the same level of "providencial State" as Europe, because it favoured ultra-liberalism over socialism.

It is funny to see that nowadays patriotic and ultra-liberal Americans are less likely to travel abroad (further than Canada or Mexico) by themselves, or usually travel in group (with other Americans), while Northern European of less patriotic and more socialist countries (that also include the UK), do not hesitate to travel for months around the world all on their own (meeting new people everyday on the way). In that respect, I'd say Northern European (led by the British and the Dutch) are more individualistic than Americans or Southern Europeans. I guess it's all a matter of balance between individualism and collectivism regarding government, family, job, travel, personal success, leisures, etc.

Nakan
Aug 26, 2004, 17:07
You can't compare the Roman empire with the Shang or even Zhou dynasty. The Roman Empire was very centralised, and at its largest stretches from present-day Egypt to Britain, and from Morocco to Armenia/Georgia (Caucasus mountains). The distance from Morocco or Portugal to the Caucasus is about the same as from Tajikistan to North Korea. So that is the length of modern China,

I didn't "compare". I just "exemplified" what you said was unusual by bringing up Rome. You said, "if the area it controlled was bigger, the city itslef was probably not huge (from what archeologist found)". However, I believe the capital city is huge if its empire/kingdom/city-state is huge(from archeologist found).


but ancient China was much smaller.

Yes, of course. And ancient Minoan and Mycenian territories were much smaller than ancient China.


As I said above, ancient China wasn't so large either,

Yes, but the extent of ancient Minoan and Mycenian civilization weren’t so large either and its extent was smaller than that of Huang-he and Chian-jiang civilization, wasn’t it? Plus, Crete island( where Knossos existed) or even present day Greece is smallar than the territory of Shang/Yin dynasty. What I wanted to say is this.

http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/resource/greece.htm



and didn't extend half as far as Greece did.

Yes, certainly they didn't extend. But, In Spring and Autumn period and the warring state period, “kingdoms”, “duchies” and other “-doms” occupied from north to south, east to west, all over China(of course very much smaller than “present day China”, though). The period where the Greek began to emigrate to other European region corresponds to Spring and Autumn period of China.
Maps
http://shibakyumei.hp.infoseek.co.jp/map/map.shtml

As for the square measure, I think those kingodoms and duchies are much larger than greek city-states's territory.
http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/resource/grkcolon.htm



In term of real land area,Alexander the Great's Empire was certainly larger than the first empire of China, under the Qin (Qin Shih Huang di, as first emperor), as it included the whole middle-east from Greece and Turkey to Egypt and as far as Pakistan and Afghanistan. IT is more comparable to the later Han Dynasty's empire at its furthest extend. But at that time, the Roman Empire was already much bigger.

Yes, probably it is larger than the Qin, maybe than the Han.
As for the square measure, is Alexander the Great's Empire larger than Roman empire?(I think so)


Check this comparative map of the Roman and Han empire. As you can see, modern China or the Roman Empire are both bigger than the Han empire, even if you add the desertic parts of Western China that were controlled during a short time by the Han.

Thank you for the comparative map. But, If we can add 西域(the desertic parts of Western China), the territory of Han dynasty looks to me definitely larger than that of Romnan empire, though I cannot measure the exact extent……
http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/early_imperial_china/han.html

Anyway, What I meant to say is:
As for the square measure, the entire Greek territories(from BC800 to appearance of Alxsander the Great) are much smaller than “present day China” and even the entire chinese kingdoms and duchies in the warring state period, because, as I said before, “basically the Greek made only city-states” and “generally they only occupied tiny area near seashore”.
http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/resource/grkcolon.htm

__________________________________________________ ______________
*by the way, this comparative map looks bit strange.. Han dynasty has never governed Taiwan and the entire Korean peninsula.
http://www.roman-empire.net/maps/empire/extent/rome-china-comparison.html
__________________________________________________ _____________



Phoenicians and Carthagenians (the same people) were integrated to the Roman Empire after the two Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage. So, in some way they are also part of the Roman heritage.

Ah, ok, I get it.



Yes, I think they can. If you compare Celtic arts (bronze sculpture, etc.) with Chinese ones of the same period, I can hardly tell the difference.

Greeks developed their first script before the Chinese. It is called the Linear A and was used by the Minoean Civilization between 2000BC and 1200BC. Celts also had their own scripts, but later (the Venetic script from 700BC and theIberian script from 4th century BC, among others).




Excuse me, which is the “same period” are you talking about, Huang-he and Chang-jian civilization, Xia dynasty, Shang dynasty, or Zhou dynasty? Can those Celtic arts date back to BC1500?

The first script the Greek developed is Liner B , isn’t it? Minoan who developed Liner A were not the Greek and Liner A is undeciphered, as far as I know. Furhthermore, LinerA and B are not related to later “alphabet”. You should compare Liner B with Chinese characters, shouldn’t you?

Anyway, I also admitted that the Greek history is comparable to the Chinese history in the way of its length, sophisticated culture, technology, and impact on other countries. But as you yourselves said, the Celt’s script appeared very later. And as of BC period, did the Celts leave anything like classics written in Greek or Chinese ?



Of course, the Celts had a mythology (神話) very similar to that of the Greeks and Romans.

? ? Most of the ethnic groups in the world have/had a mythology, don’t they? It is no wonder that the Celts had very similar mythology to that of the Greeks and Romans, because their language is one of the Indo-European languages, like Greek and Latin.


Yes, because their technological or cultural advancement were very similar, and Zhou China (same size as Western Europe) was also composed of over 200 small kingdoms, not unlike the Celtic or Germanic ones. Then the Roman came to unify everything, in the same way as the Qin and Han unified China.

No, those had not been “kingdoms”, but dukedoms, marquis-doms, earldoms, viscount-doms, baron-doms that admitted the suzerainty of 周(Chou/Zhou) dynasty ,until “kingdoms” in south China that didn’t admit it appeared in the late Spring and Autumn period. And I think those “-doms” were not as small as the Celtic and Germanic “tribes”.

As of BC3000, did the Celts build cities surrounded by wall?
http://www.tcn-catv.ne.jp/~woodsorrel/kodai/g01.files/00/kks-tyok.html
http://www.daido-it.ac.jp/~doboku/koto/koukogaku/gaku9.html

By the way, the Greeks before the appearance of Alexander the Great were also composed of several hundred(or maybe thousand) small city-states like the “Celtic tribes”.. Do ordinary European Historians consider that technological or cultural advancement of the Celts and the Greeks is very similar?

And I ask you again, what ever did "Germanic tribes" accomplish as of Before Christ period?


I am just asking you, as a Japanese, do you feel that your roots are in China ? Do you think of the early Chinese dynasties as your country's history ?

No, I don't feel so. However, I feel most of the roots of East Asian culture(of course including Japan) are in China.(何が「中国」かというのは問題だけれども。古代だったら、日本は中原の王朝の支配の及ばない 江南の民族・王朝との関係の方が深かったはずだから。黄河文明よりも長江文明)  "The early Chinese dynasties" are not my country's history, but the culture the early Chinese dynasties developed are a part of my country's 文化史(cultural history).


[edited to correct typo and add maps]

chikazukiyasui
Aug 26, 2004, 20:17
Alright, I have to admit that the mediaeval knights had very strong family and lord-vassal ties, actually similar to that of the Japanese samurai. But, middle ages apart, we could at least say since the Renaissance and beginning of the colonization in the late 15th century.

The way I see it, we begin to see some hints of individualism in the Renaissance, but the real thing doesn't emerge until around the 18th century.


But many soldiers, explorators, artists or thinkers cared a lot about their image, prestige and personal achievment. Pizzaro, Cortes, Columbus, Magellan, Cabral, da Vinci, Michelangello, Machiavelli, the Borgia family, etc. were all motivated by their own personal gain and success.

I do not consider personal ambition to be equivalent to individualism. If it were, then Japan's Warring States period would be a fine example of a time when individualism dominated Japanese society, since it was shaped by the ambitions and rivalries of numerous daimyos. In that event, your claim of a long-standing difference between the West and Japan with regard to individualism would face a problem.

I grant that there is a link between personal ambition and individualism, but they are not the same thing. Pursuing ones own goals without regard to the demands of the collective (be that the clan, the nation, the church or the corporation) is one thing, but believing it is morally superior to do so is quite another, and it is the latter that I take to be individualism. It comes out of the philosophy of Hobbes and Rousseau. Individualism, as described above, is very important to modern Western values, but only became significant in the 18th century, and has been growing increasingly important ever since. Individualism inspires Westerners to complain that the Japanese "all dress the same", or " don't express themselves enough", or "sacrifice themselves too much for their job". It wouldn't occur to most 17th Century Europeans to think that any of these were distinctive and wrong features of Japanese society.




Yes, but that is a idea related more to democracy, equality and human rights than just individualism. Actually, it was one of the first "socialist" ideas that the state should "care for the people".

Modern belief in democracy follows from individualism, not the other way around.


Before, kings and princes were only concerned about themselves, very individualistically. It may be that the Enlightment first sacrifice the selfishness of the powerful for the benefit of the weak. This has its roots in the moralistic and idealistic heritage of the West, not its individualism.

Kings and Princes varied in how selfish they were. It makes no sense to discuss the individualism of a King or Prince, though, since their role makes them unique in their milieu. Only ordinary people can be individualistic. Kings and Princes ruled (supposedly) by Divine Right, and many of them sincerely believed in that Divine Right. Divine Right entailed obligations, and they believed in the obligations, too. None of that sits well with individualism.


In my Opinio, the most individualistic period in Western Europe was roughly from the mid-15th to mid-18th century. After that, the concepts of democracy, equality, nation-states (19th century), etc. appeared and people felt for the first time that they acted for their nation or empire, rather than just for themselves like before.

In my opinion, that is nonsense. The mid 18th century is when individualism first arose to any kind of significance, and the concepts of democracy and equality are only means to an end - namely, of supporting individual rights and freedoms and self-expression. Capitalism, Romanticism, Modernism, all contributed to increasing the importance of individualism.


Patriotisma and nationalism rose, until it exploded in WWI, which people fought only for the glory and pride of their nation, not for themselves (who hoped waging this horrible war anyway ?). Individualism surged again after WWI, and especially after WWII.

I see those as vestiges of pre-Enlightenment thought, and to some extent, reactions against the Enlightenment. Wars between tribes and clans and city-states and nations and sects, in which people took sides according to collective loyalties, were very much the norm before the Enlightenment, and a big part of the Enlightenment project was the ambition to bring such stuff to an end by establishing universal ideals with which everyone could agree. WWI and WWII were blips on a general upward curve of individualism.


But it is true that some European countries are nowadays less individualistic and more group-oriented (Spain, Portugal and Greece in particular).

Indeed.


Non European Western countries like the US or Australia had a different evolution. Individualism was at its strongest in the 19th century (Gold Rush, cow boys, the "border", etc.) . The US only started to develop a strong sense of nation made of patriotic people after WWI and WWII, I think. But in some way, the US has never reached the same level of "providencial State" as Europe, because it favoured ultra-liberalism over socialism.

Liberalism is an Enlightenment idea that emerged mainly in Britain starting in the 17th century (with Hobbes, who wasn't a quite liberal, but who sowed its seeds by establishing the idea of individualism), and has evolved continually since then, but achieved most of its present form by the late 19th century (with JS Mill and Herbert Spencer). American and Australian politics are totally shaped by that tradition of philosophy.


I'd say Northern European (led by the British and the Dutch) are more individualistic than Americans or Southern Europeans. I guess it's all a matter of balance between individualism and collectivism regarding government, family, job, travel, personal success, leisures, etc.

Different Western countries all have different ways of balancing the Individual and the Collective, but all of them, I think, would tend to consider themselves more individualistic than Japanese society, and I think they'd probably all have a point. Whether they'd be right in thinking that Japanese collectivism (which I suppose stems to a large degree from Confucianism) is a bad thing is another matter.

bossel
Aug 27, 2004, 02:48
Can those Celtic arts date back to BC1500?

As of BC3000, did the Celts build cities surrounded by wall?
Don't have time right now to go into detail, but I can answer those 2.
The answer to both questions is: yes!

Here (http://www.dhm.de/museen/heuneburg/en/einf_frame.html) is a site about the fortified town now called Heuneburg.

Quote:
"There is even some evidence to suggest that Herodotus may have meant the Heuneburg on the upper Danube when he described the town called Pyrene.
The site is located on a promontory on the left bank of the Danube and has produced extensive evidence for settlement and fortifications dating from the Neolithic (3rd to 2nd millennium BC) on."

Maciamo
Aug 27, 2004, 12:09
You said, "if the area it controlled was bigger, the city itslef was probably not huge (from what archeologist found)". However, I believe the capital city is huge if its empire/kingdom/city-state is huge(from archeologist found).

Don't assume too quickly that the capital of a large area is always a big city. The capital of Alexander's empire in Macedonia was quite small.



Yes, of course. And ancient Minoan and Mycenian territories were much smaller than ancient China.
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Yes, but the extent of ancient Minoan and Mycenian civilization weren’t so large either and its extent was smaller than that of Huang-he and Chian-jiang civilization, wasn’t it? Plus, Crete island( where Knossos existed) or even present day Greece is smaller than the territory of Shang/Yin dynasty.
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Excuse me, which is the “same period” are you talking about, Huang-he and Chang-jian civilization, Xia dynasty, Shang dynasty, or Zhou dynasty? Can those Celtic arts date back to BC1500?


Why do you always limit Ancient Europe to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations ? The Celts had fortified cities from around 2500BC and build monuments like Stonehenge (2750 - 1000BC), during the same period as the Minoean (3100-1420BC) and Mycaenian (1420-1050BC) civilizations in Greece, or Xia (2070-1600BC) and Shang/Yin dynasty (1600-1046 BC) in China. The Celtic territory was as large as Zhou China (1122 BC - 256 BC) or Alexander the Great's Empire (356-323 BC).

Look by yourself at where the Celts lived.

http://www.euro-celts.com/media/images/CeltMap01.jpg

Just for your information, the Celts had contacts with the Greeks and even the Chinese (since 1000-750BC). The word "Celt" comes from Greek "Keltoi". The Celtic Bronze Age started around 2200BC and the Iron Age from 700BC. So, yes, the bronze age appeared earlier in Britain and central Europe than in China, where it first appeared with the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC), or possibly the legendary Xia dynasty (2070-1600BC). But we know apparently more about the Celts at that time than the Xia dynasty, and their territory was much bigger too (the Xia kingdom was smaller than Ireland).

This online encyclopedia (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Bronze%20Age) has a good summery of the bronze ages around the world.

Modern Western Civilization derives from the Graeco-Roman (incuding Phoenicians and Carthagenians), Celtic and Germanic cultures. They were all from the Indo-European linguistico-cultural group (similar language, religion, ethnic group, etc.), except the Phoenicians (but present-day Mediterranean Europeans have Phoenicians blood too, which partly explain why they have darker hair or eyes, as Celtic, Germanic and even Greek people had fair hair and blue eyes).


Yes, probably it is larger than the Qin, maybe than the Han.
As for the square measure, is Alexander the Great's Empire larger than Roman empire?(I think so)

I terms of land area, I think the Roman Empire was the largest, followed by Alexander's empire, then the Han dynasty, then the Celtic territory of the bronze and iron age, then Qin, then Zhou, then Shang dynasties.

You can see clearly on th emap below that the Roman Empire was bigger than Han China (even with the desertic part). You can also see than Alexander's Empire was like the Eastern Roman Empire + Persia (in green) + Afghanisthan and Pakistan (1/3 of the grey). Obviously, the Western Roman Empire was bigger than Persia, so the Roman Empire is bigger than Alexander's, which is still bigger than Han China.

http://www.cit.gu.edu.au/~sctwiseh/Roman/Eurasia116.gif

http://www-cm.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/coins/east-west/images/Alexcampaignmap.gif



The first script the Greek developed is Liner B , isn’t it? Minoan who developed Liner A were not the Greek and Liner A is undeciphered, as far as I know. Furhthermore, LinerA and B are not related to later “alphabet”. You should compare Liner B with Chinese characters, shouldn’t you?

The point is, each culture (Minoan, Phoenician, Hellenic, Celtic, Roman...) developed their own script, while China continually improve the same one, rather than re-inventing new ones (like Japanese kanas or Hangul). Most European settled for the Roman alphabet because Rome became the major power. But Greeks kept their alphabet and Russian copied it to create cyrillic. Goths in Germany developed their own Gothic alphabet based on the Roman one. The Norse (Viking) in Scandinavia who were still isolated during the late Roman period, developed the Runes (around 2nd century AD). All this happened before the kanji were imported to Japan.



? ? Most of the ethnic groups in the world have/had a mythology, don’t they? It is no wonder that the Celts had very similar mythology to that of the Greeks and Romans, because their language is one of the Indo-European languages, like Greek and Latin.

Yes, it may be that the neolithic Aryan culture already had a quite developed polytheist religion. When the Aryan nomads separated in 2 groups (European and Perso-Indian), the Aryan who invaded the Indus civilization in present-day Pakistan and India created the Hindu religion based on their own Aryan religion. They kept the gods (similar to Greco-Roman and Celtic ones) and invented the caste system to separate the fair-skinned Aryan (upper-caste) of the dark-skinned Dravidian (lower-caste). But ultimately, Hindusim is related to European cultures, and even Buddhism is more closely realted to Europe than East Asia - as Siddartha Gautama was an Aryan prince of Northern India, spoke Sanskrit, an Indo-European language, and was Hindu, an Aryan religion.


By the way, the Greeks before the appearance of Alexander the Great were also composed of several hundred(or maybe thousand) small city-states like the “Celtic tribes”.. Do ordinary European Historians consider that technological or cultural advancement of the Celts and the Greeks is very similar?

I guess that Aryans were more individuaistic than Chinese, and fought for the independence of their own, small kingdoms or city-states (depending on the geography), while Chinese tended to group together (maybe also for geographical reasons).


And I ask you again, what ever did "Germanic tribes" accomplish as of Before Christ period?

The Germanic tribes were another Aryan group, with a similar culture (religion, language...). They lived in Northern Germany, the Netherlands and Southern Scandinavia (mostly Denmark and southern Sweden), where they arrived only around 2000BC from Eastern Europe. So the Germanic tribes were some of the latest people to migrate to Europe from the original Aryan nomad tribes from the North of the Black Sea and Caucasus. As you know, the Greeks first settled in Greece around 8000BC, the Celts probably gathered in villages in Europe at the end of the Ice age, around 9,000BC, and the Chinese in China around 12,000BC (as China is warmer and was not covered by ice at that time). So it took time for them to create new kingdoms and have a population big enough (even more difficult due to the cold climate) to achieve something important. We don't know much about them because they did not have a writing system till getting in conact with the Romans around 1st century AD.

But they had their own bronze age (Nordic bronze age, from 1000BC) and had an economy strongly based on the keeping of livestock (cows, sheep, horses, etc.). Once they developed, they formed many small kingdoms, each with their own peculiarity. Please check on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_tribe) if you want to know more about each tribe's culture.