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Thread: Is Japan an intellectual country ?

  1. #26
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    We've done this thread before, or at elast it feels like we have.

  2. #27
    Regular Member extricate's Avatar
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    I think you can find intellectuals anywhere if you know where to look. You are right though maciamo, the majority of inventions came out of europe or the usa.

    I saw a political cartoon once that basically made fun of how everyone came online to make fun of the usa on the american invented internet, kinda funny actually, you could even say ironic.

    I guess the notion that asians are good at math does not really apply to Japan then huh?
    Heresy grows from idleness

  3. #28
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    Japan's strength has always been emulating great cultures,Japanese have never surpassed their cultural masters to this day unlike US could leap frogged Western Europe post WW 2 as the leader of modern industrial world in innovations.

  4. #29
    Big Brother's Son Erekose's Avatar
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    I fail to see how the quantity of prizes designates a people as intellectual or not.
    Most Japanese I have spent time with, most notably my wife, have shown exceptional intelligence, curiosity, and talent.
    What is different about the Japanese in my opinion is that they lack the overt competitive nature that many of us in the West associate with capacity or ability to compete or achieve. I've heard many stories of significant discoveries and accomplishments by Japanese in Japan that go largely unnoticed because they simply do not have the desire to applaud themselves. In is an essential difference in personality, not ability.
    I have had extraordinary conversations with my wife about philosophy, religion, politics, and economics. What makes her different is of course her unique personality, but perhaps more so our depth of understanding which we share. Japanese I have become close to reveal similar characteristics.

  5. #30
    puzzled gaijin
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    As Maciamo already stated, the title needs to be changed.
    Perhaps 'Is inventive science highly valued in Japanese society?'
    Strangely enough, the person with the most US patents in the world is a Japanese, Shunpei Yamazaki.

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columni...3-patent_x.htm

    Note that almost all of his patents are related to IT hardware, particularly chip design.
    For companies holding paents worldwide, it's IBM, a US company.
    Last edited by gaijinalways; Dec 16, 2006 at 17:04. Reason: link misplaced

  6. #31
    Junior Member Toru Ranryu's Avatar
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    Arrow Japanese Inventiveness

    Already in the original post Maciamo admits that Japanese are good at engineering. This is further supported by the study he points to in his more recent post #23, which indicates that a higher percentage of young people study engineering in Japan than in any other country included in the study. So, what exactly is the difference between "inventive science" and "engineering"?

    Maciamo claims that since inventions such as cars, trains, telephones and television where not made in Japan, Japanese people are not good at making inventions. That is ridiculous! All those inventions were made at least 80 years ago! At that time Japan was far behind the West in scientific knowledge, but that is hardly relevant when discussing Japanese inventiveness today.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiger View Post
    Japan has long been known for taking other people's ideas and making them better.
    Once, Japanese cars were laughed at. Now they are the most reliable in the world. While Japan may not have invented the television, the VCR, the CD player etc... you might ask yourself this. If these products were invented elsewhere, why do the majority of people own a Japanese designed version now?
    Actually, Japan did invent the CD player, and they made the first commercial videocassette recorder.

  7. #32
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    Japan Inc was accessed to Research & Development Labs @ Stanford University with annual multi-billion dollar purchases of American patents up to late 80's,old boys in Washington ended Japan's free-ride on American innovative know-hows.

  8. #33
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo_Yo View Post
    Japan's strength has always been emulating great cultures,Japanese have never surpassed their cultural masters to this day unlike US could leap frogged Western Europe post WW 2 as the leader of modern industrial world in innovations.
    Do you mean that the UA were more innovative than Western Europe since the end of WWII ? First of all, you should check where scientists and inventors in the US come from (many are European, working in the US because it is better paid). Do not confuse people working in the USA and US citizen. Then if we look at really important post-WWII inventions like the audio tape, the walkman, the video tape, the CD, the CD-ROM, contact lenses, etc., they are all European inventions. The only two major post-WWII American inventions I can think of are the microwave oven and the photocopier. In fact, the USA's most inventive period was from its independence to WWI. => see great inventions by country and chronological order
    Quote Originally Posted by Toru Ranryu View Post
    So, what exactly is the difference between "inventive science" and "engineering"?
    Engineering is putting in practice the laws of sciences. It's mostly a matter of financial means...
    All those inventions were made at least 80 years ago! At that time Japan was far behind the West in scientific knowledge, but that is hardly relevant when discussing Japanese inventiveness today.
    I don't think that Japan 80 or 100 years ago was most scientifically backward than Western countries 200, 300 or 400 years ago. Yet, Western countries did invent such things as the mechanical clock, the thermometer and barometer, the microscope or the steam engine over 300 years ago. How comes than even in the 20th century Japan, with more scientfic knowledge and a bigger population and economic power than the whole West combined 300 years ago, didn't come out with more notable inventions ? I can only think of the quartz watch, invented by Seiko in 1969, and the Minidisk (already almost obsolete) invented by Sony in 1991.
    Maciamo claims that since inventions such as cars, trains, telephones and television where not made in Japan, Japanese people are not good at making inventions. That is ridiculous! All those inventions were made at least 80 years ago! At that time Japan was far behind the West in scientific knowledge, but that is hardly relevant when discussing Japanese inventiveness today.
    Actually, Japan did invent the CD player, and they made the first commercial videocassette recorder.
    This is incorrect. Philips, a Dutch company invented both the CD player and the videocassette recorder. However, Sony did work with Philips to develop the CD-ROM.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Dec 15, 2006 at 16:49. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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  9. #34
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erekose View Post
    Most Japanese I have spent time with, most notably my wife, have shown exceptional intelligence, curiosity, and talent.
    This kind of remark only gives an appreciation of your own level of intelligence, curiosity, and talent, not the Japanese.

    I've heard many stories of significant discoveries and accomplishments by Japanese in Japan that go largely unnoticed because they simply do not have the desire to applaud themselves. In is an essential difference in personality, not ability.
    Which ones have you heard of ?

  10. #35
    Junior Member Toru Ranryu's Avatar
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    Arrow Engineering vs. Inventive Science

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Then if we look at really important post-WWII inventions like the audio tape, the walkman, the video tape, the CD, the CD-ROM, contact lenses, etc., they are all European inventions.
    CDs (not CD-ROMs) were invented in a collaborative effort between Philips and Sony. I recommend reading The Compact Disc Story by Kees Immink. It would be nice if you would fact-check before you post complete misapprehensions like this.

    Sony launched their videocassette format "U-matic" in 1971. Philips didn't introduce their version called "VCR" until 1972.

    Walkman is wholly a Japanese invention. Even the word Walkman is the brand name used by Sony.

    I don't think that Japan 80 or 100 years ago was most scientifically backward than Western countries 200, 300 or 400 years ago. Yet, Western countries did invent such things as the mechanical clock, the thermometer and barometer, the microscope or the steam engine over 300 years ago.
    The nature of things is that inventions can only be made if people don't know about them. It's pretty silly to blame Japan for not inventing things they were already using at the time.

    Engineering is putting in practice the laws of sciences. It's mostly a matter of financial means...
    I asked a question about the difference between inventive science and engineering. Now you have defined "engineering" (and added a piece of personal opinion which I will ignore because it's so obviously uninformed) but you forgot to provide a definition of inventive science. Perhaps you'll allow me to do it for you? Inventive Science is the act of creating new machines, devices or systems by applying scientific principles. In other words, it's a branch of engineering under your very own definition...

  11. #36
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toru Ranryu View Post
    CDs (not CD-ROMs) were invented in a collaborative effort between Philips and Sony. I recommend reading The Compact Disc Story by Kees Immink. It would be nice if you would fact-check before you post complete misapprehensions like this.
    I did check it twice. I guess my sources were wrong. Anyway, you were as wrong to say that Sony/Japan was its sole invetor. However I was right about the CD-ROM being also developed by Philips and Sony. Sources 1, Sources 2

    So I could as well tell you "It would be nice if you would fact-check before you post complete misapprehensions like this."
    Sony launched their videocassette format "U-matic" in 1971. Philips didn't introduce their version called "VCR" until 1972.
    Sorry I meant Philips invented the VCR, the only videocassette system widely used around the world.
    Walkman is wholly a Japanese invention. Even the word Walkman is the brand name used by Sony.
    This is a fiction. A German, Andreas Pavel invented it 2 years before Sony. Sony recently acknowledged this. The word Walkman is indeed Sony's brand name, so I should speak of "portable personal stereo cassette player" (it's easier to say "Walkman"). Pavel called his invention the "stereobelt".
    The nature of things is that inventions can only be made if people don't know about them. It's pretty silly to blame Japan for not inventing things they were already using at the time.
    The history of human inventions goes back to the earliest days of civilisation, and even before that (well, for tools, weapons and a few basic stuff). I have never pretended to rate the inventiveness of contemporary Japan only, but the whole Japanese culture since its very beginnings. Most of the notable inventions of which we know the exact origin (inventor's name and precise year of invention) were made in the last 700 years, I didn't go back to ancient times in Europe. The Greeks and Romans also had loads of great inventions, but maybe less relevant for life today. It is the same of the Chinese, or the Japanese. Modern society has been shaped almost exclusively by Western inventions from the late Middle Ages onwards.

    My question is, why a country like Japan, that has an age-old reputation for the organisation of its society, refined customs and high literacy, didn't manage to develop more sophisticated technologies. Why does it take a single Englishman (William Adams), 400 years ago, to teach them about geography, navigation, building of ocean-faring ships, artillery, etc., which the Japanese learned quickly to copy, but never thought about themselves ? Why are all significant inventions until the late 20th-century concentrated in a few Western countries, and that Japan, China, and most of the rest of the world almost didn't contribute to anything to modern society ?

    I find the bickering about the CD and CD-ROM issue pointless for this discussion. My intention was to find an answer to the question : why is our world shaped by Western sciences, technologies, systems and ideas, and not Asian ones or others ?
    Last edited by Maciamo; Dec 16, 2006 at 17:48.

  12. #37
    Junior Member Toru Ranryu's Avatar
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    Arrow Nit-picking

    • I never said Japan was the sole inventor of the CD. This was in a reply to a post where it was strongly implied that Japan had nothing to do with it.
    • I didn't express myself clearly about the CD-ROM, but now that you mention it, it's probably more fair to give Sony full credit for inventing the CD-ROM. Sure, Philips and Sony published the yellow book together, but that's most likely for contractual reasons. A CD-ROM is physically the same as a CD, and the only difference is in the data storage structure. Computer programs are more sensitive to errors so the CD-ROM standard has to be less error-prone than an audio CD. In his text Kes Immink explains that Philips was mostly responsible for the physical CD, whereas Sony contributed with such things as the error-correction methods. In other words, of the two companies Sony was the only one with the expertise necessary to take the next step and develop CD-ROMs.
    • You're confusing VCR with VHS, which is the most widely used videocassette format. VHS was introduced by JVC in 1976. By the way, JVC is a Japanese company. So any way you look at it Japan invented the videocassette.
    • I strongly doubt that Sony was aware of Andreas Pavel's invention at the time the walkman was invented. Most likely they invented similar things independently, with the main difference that the Japanese were able to turn their idea into reality. Incidentally, by the same standard you should recognize Japan as the inventor of the floppy disc.

    So in fact my post didn't really contain any factual errors, and the few points needing further clarification strengthened rather than weakened my case: Japan has made several notable inventions during the last century. I'm glad you finally admit that. If you want to change this into a discussion about history, why don't you post it in the History sub-forum?

  13. #38
    There isn't enough of a 'questioning' culture in Japan for it to be as intellectual as it could be. There is also an elevated degree of superficiality which I have yet to find elsewhere - adults obsessed with cartoon characters, brand names etc.

  14. #39
    Deus Ex Machina Dr. J. M.'s Avatar
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    "Is Japan an intellectual country?" Interesting question. As far as I am concerned I would answer this question with a simple "no". This is however not limited to Japan. In my humble opinion no country can claim to be an "intellectual" country. Individuals are intellectual. Of course not all people are intellectual or even smart, that is (in fact most are not.)

    My question is, why a country like Japan, that has an age-old reputation for the organisation of its society, refined customs and high literacy, didn't manage to develop more sophisticated technologies. Why does it take a single Englishman (William Adams), 400 years ago, to teach them about geography, navigation, building of ocean-faring ships, artillery, etc., which the Japanese learned quickly to copy, but never thought about themselves ? Why are all significant inventions until the late 20th-century concentrated in a few Western countries, and that Japan, China, and most of the rest of the world almost didn't contribute to anything to modern society ?
    Before I comment on the actual content of your qoute, I have to point out that it seems that you are implying that Japan, or the rest of the world, is somehow inferior to the West. This said I personally do not believe that you did so on purpose, mind you. However your words can easily be understood that way.

    To answer your question, why Japan did not come up with significant inventions until the late 20th-century: You have to consider quite a lot of aspects to answer this.

    First, you mentioned it yourself, the way Japanese society is organized. As it looks like the Japanese mentality stresses harmony over individuality, thus reducing the amount of groundbreaking inventions or discoveries by brillant individuals (Nobel, Einstein, Darwin...[for the purpose of this reply I am only taking 18th/19th century scientists in account]).

    Second, isolation. Unlike the West Japan remained isolated for a very long time. Europe has many cultures and languages, all struggeling for power. In order to survive or in order to remain dominant these nations had to change and to adapt.

    Third, religion and cultural heritage. Concerning the West: Christianity, like all other monotheistic religions tends to be rather... how shall I put it?... violent. This is due to the fact that other Gods cannot be tolerated by the very premise of this believe system. Therefore strict rules and dogmata occur and all other forms of exegesis are branded as heresy. This is, of course, very oppressive, and will inevitably lead to resistance. This resistence was supported by the cultural heritage of the hellenistic era and it's subsequent philosophies. In Japan there was no such thing. Only Shintoism and Buddhism as religion and maybe Confucianism as philosophy, not enough to spark a revolution against the Tenno like against the French king during the French Revolution... (I do not know that much about East Asian philosophy though, I might be wrong.)

    Fourth, luck. Plain luck. Because of the Industrialization the living conditions in Europe changed dramatically. This led to social unrest and new social classes, new social and economic structures. All of these in turn led to new inventions and discoveries. Europe was simply lucky to invent the steam engine first.

    I guess the geography plays in as well. Of course all of these factors overlap significantly and there are countless other points one has to take into account (and I guess I was rather shallow in my analysis, but further elaboration is not necassary.). Everything I have stated here has to be taken with a grain of salt, as I am no sociologist. But maybe it is at least somewhat plausible.

    By the way, how exactly do define "intellectual". Do you consider artists intellectual? Social scientists? Natural scientists? Knowledgable people?

  15. #40
    Johansson Revenant's Avatar
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    I've been here seven years, and in that time, there have been very few people that were willing to express their opinions about religion, philosophy, politics, or society. Most of the responses I get are simply 'that's a difficult topic'. There are some topics about Japan that I know that a lot of Japanese don't know, and they're often like, 'wow, you know a lot about (for example) Japan's history'. I have given up talking about anything related to religion, philosophy, politics, or society with my wife, and that's not cause she's not intelligent (in some ways, she may be more intelligent than myself), but because she has never thought about these topics at all, and she doesn't seem terribly interested in talking about them. It seems to me a lot of Japanese are similar.

    The harmony promoted here, or this concept of 'wa' may also be a factor here. The Japanese don't wish to give their opinions on certain topics for fear of creating disharmony, and they fear opposing someone's opinion for the same reason, they don't wish to disrupt the harmony of the group. So perhaps with people's ideas staying within their heads and going unchallenged, they don't get to learn new and perhaps better ideas. I know that since I began debating on forums, I have changed a lot of my ideas. People challenged my ideas, and sometimes after thinking on their points, could I not hold to my original position.

    Just a few weeks ago, a researcher at a university here was telling me that since most Japanese doctors don't speak English with anything near fluency, that they aren't able to read all the recent scientific journals. In fact, most Japanese doctors are basing their entire practice on a few textbooks that have been translated into Japanese, and these textbooks were written perhaps ten years ago, and all the info in them is usually just taken unchallenged. In other countries, there are a lot of doctors that will challenge someone's paper.
    "The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness."
    --H.H. the Dalai Lama

  16. #41
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    I think there is no country that absorbed various@different@culture like
    the Japan
    Moreover, it is transformed in Japan style and accepted though I do not know whether it is intellectual or not.

    The civilization flows one-sidedly from a Chinese continent at that time , was miniaturized and complicated in the island, too.

    Hiragana and katakana were made when Imperial_embassies_to_China was abolished ..

    the Japanese accepted a lot of intellectual civilizations and culture and that was imitated, and the unique culture was invented.

    I might say it is a second creation as intellectual
    I think The Japanese gives priority to the profit of the group when profit or
    individual profit of the community is selected by the alternative.

    It is because it is supported by the conviction that the community is prosperous and , my profit becomes the maximum, too.

    1)You also must participate as a member of the community.
    2)There must be a mechanism that the profit is reduced form.
    3)There must be reliability about distribution.
    This is consolidated in "Thought of symbiosis".
    Japan at that time was a multiethnic nation( wa-jin, han , korean , emishi ainu...)

    The feature of the Japanese culture seems to exist for a part of the cause
    in the diversity of this race.
    fortunately, Japan was called a drift of deffernce cultures because of island
    it was easy to enter and difficult to get out..
    so , it was like terminal station that various cultures come..
    and Japan has not like Sinocentrism..
    it is very flexible...

    for example..
    a french man said "the culture and literature for French
    were already completed"

    http://www.mfjtokyo.or.jp/event/00103/detail.html
    Japan will be able to make New one moreover, too...

    The Japanese is good at the self control I think.
    First of all, it thinks about harmony with another before it insists on the
    self.
    I think there are neither excessive individualism nor liberalism in Japan.
    Perhaps, the expected new civilization is a civilization that puts a curb upon
    one's desires.

    The paradox of freedom doesn't occur easily in the culture of Japan.
    I think It suits a new civilization most.

    I think An intellectual country selects the best method and the means ,and The entire people can participate with common consideration toward goal .
    Japan is culturally hiding the potential more than other country

    I think regrettable Japan is rushing into the society where the rich and poor exists for global standerd. so are crime...............

  17. #42
    puzzled gaijin
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    caster51 posted
    The feature of the Japanese culture seems to exist for a part of the cause
    in the diversity of this race.
    fortunately, Japan was called a drift of deffernce cultures because of island
    it was easy to enter and difficult to get out..
    so , it was like terminal station that various cultures come..
    and Japan has not like Sinocentrism..
    it is very flexible...
    No, it was quite the opposite, and hence somewhat isolated for 400 years.

    As to flexibility, you must be kidding. Why do you think things change so slowly here, because the population is flexible?

    caster 51 posted
    I think An intellectual country selects the best method and the means ,and The entire people can participate with common consideration toward goal .
    Japan is culturally hiding the potential more than other country

    I think regrettable Japan is rushing into the society where the rich and poor exists for global standerd. so are crime...............
    Yes, I think it may continue to be hidden .

    Some of the crimes come from being 'flexible' about money and space, yes?

    And of course the crimes show 'self control'!
    Last edited by gaijinalways; Jan 26, 2007 at 23:38. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  18. #43
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    As to flexibility, you must be kidding. Why do you think things change so slowly here, because the population is flexible?

    thing?


    Some of the crimes come from being 'flexible' about money and space, yes?
    It might be basically an education and qualitative difference of living...

  19. #44
    puzzled gaijin
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    thing= in this case is referring to behaviour. That and changing the way something is done, even when it is obviously an inefficient way of doing it.

  20. #45
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    thing= in this case is referring to behaviour. That and changing the way something is done, even when it is obviously an inefficient way of doing it.
    it is so funny.
    there are many things that are obviously an inefficient way.
    iI mean ideology and culturely 'flexible"
    I dont mean system and rule .

  21. #46
    ... La La // mika_r's Avatar
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    you have a good point mariamo. i agree with you. and other thing that i should add to this threat is that japan has one of the lowest strikes in the world. in my history book there was a graphic showing this thing i'm telling you.

  22. #47
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    i think this kind of posts breaks the harmony on this forum u_u i dont mean the thread itself, i point the ppl that post such things like "the other countries have more novels". It could be offensive for some ppl u_u

  23. #48
    Deus Ex Machina Dr. J. M.'s Avatar
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    Forums (also known as "discussion boards") are about, guess what?, discussions, sometimes even polemic ones. They make things interesting and provide a good overview over certain opinions and Weltanschauungen regarding any given topic. What is the purpose of discussion boards when your goal is harmony? Forums become redundant as soon as everybody merely states the same opinion (for the sake of harmony).

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