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“East Brains, West Brains” by Sharon Begley

The society in which individuals live comprises different cultural practices due to many people from different cultural backgrounds and orientations staying together. For a long time, Western experts have considered that people around the globe see and interpret the surrounding world in the same way. However, from the moment when the studies began to be conducted on non-Westerners as well, the picture of the situation became different. In her article East Brains, West Brains, Sharon Begley states that people of different cultures perceive the whole picture of the world, as well as other people, differently. An analysis of the article leads to the conclusion that people of various cultures see everything – starting from the facial features of their interlocutors and ending with the details of the picture or surroundings.

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The context in which this work is written consists of cultural and political relations between Western and Eastern people, who try to overcome their differences to work together productively. Because the article was written in the first decade of the 21st century, it represents the current political and cultural direction – the diplomacy between the West and the East. Such countries as the United States and the United Kingdom are typical representatives of Western values and culture. At the same time, China and Japan may be defined as good examples of Eastern culture. In their book, Curtis Martin and Bruce Stronach analyze the differences between two modern democracies – Britain and Japan (2017). These two countries, at first glance, have the same political system; “the countries represent unique and incomparable political systems” (Martin and Stronach 2017). Thus, the author reflects on the given cultural context in her article, comparing two separate, and sometimes opposed, cultures.

One of defining features of the culture is its bias toward individualism or collectivism, which significantly influences a person’s overall perception of the surrounding world. Individualism makes a person regards himself as a separated autonomous unit of the society, while at the same time, the collectivist person regards himself as a part of a solid societal structure. As it was said in the article, – “Westerners tend to look at particular features on a face, such as the eyes or mouth, while East Asians focus on the center of the face” (Begley, 2021). Begley separates these two approaches and marks the first as focused on particular features and the second as holistic (2021). Thus, such feature as a degree of collectivism or individualism in the culture defines a person’s focusing points, making him outline the distinct traits of an object or regard it as a whole.

Another factor that may influence the culture’s ethics and, therefore, an individual’s perception is the external environment in which individuals and cultures are developing. A person grows as a representative of a given culture and cannot be entirely separated from society. Thus, the community in which an individual exists will inevitably affect his worldview. In her article, Sharon Begley supports the opinion that the external environment, especially society, influences a person’s perceptual mechanisms (Begley, 2021). Thus, the experience, that an individual gains in the process of his interaction with society, shapes his worldview and moral values (Begley, 2021). Considering this information, it is impossible to regard a person as a fully independent unit.

Some scholars and researchers claim that in the modern era of globalization, the worldview of individuals becomes unified and connects with Western values. Although this claim has some degree of validity, it has several gaps. For example, if to analyze the history of the Central Asian peoples, it is possible to understand that they are currently undergoing the “cultural revival of their traditional values” (Khodjamkulov, Makhmudov snd Shofkorov 2020 6694). Although Western media or transnational companies may have become a part of Eastern people’s life, they mostly do not influence an individual’s way of thinking. Thus, the aspect of a strong cultural heritage cannot be disregarded as insignificant.

Westerners have many differences from Eastern people, starting from their political views and ending with the perception of others. This cultural gulf between the two mentioned cultures is a reason for various misunderstandings and conflicts, based on the inability to accept the existence of a value system, which differs from that of a given individual. In the analyzed article author displays how seriously values may vary, thus promoting the need to accept and understand that there is more than one culture, more than one language, and more than one opinion.

Works Cited

Bergley, Sharon. “East Brains, West Brains.” Sharon Begley, 2008, Web.

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Khodjamkulov, Umid, Makhmudov, Kudratbek, and Shofkorov, Abdushukur. “The Issue of Spiritual and Patriotic Education of Young Generation in the Scientific, Political and Literary Heritage of Central Asian Thinkers.” Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, vol. 24, no. 5, 2020, pp. 6694 – 6701.‬‬‬‬

Stronach, Bruce, and Martin, Curtis H.. Politics East and West: A Comparison of Japanese and British Political Culture. Taylor & Francis, 2017.

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