One of the pressing issues in the context of historical-cultural and historical-philosophical studies within the framework of modern Oriental studies is the question of the basis for correlating the philosophical worldviews and cultures of the East and West. When covering this issue, “culture of the Eastern type” (Eastern culture) is understood primarily as those cultures that are in line with the Taoist, Confucian and Buddhist traditions, then “cultures of the Western type” (Western culture) include those that are based on Greek-Christian tradition.

A specific type of oriental culture is traditional Chinese culture. The West’s special attention to Chinese culture was due to the fact that a large gap separates Chinese and European civilization. For example, the modern French philosopher and sinologist Francois Julien writes: “After all, the Chinese language does not belong to the same language family as our languages (the great family of Indo-European languages); Religious revelation was unknown to China, and it did not wonder about the existence of the object of its reflections; after all, Chinese civilization for a very long period (most of its existence) developed without any influence on our part, and therefore it represents the most radical example of possible otherness” (Julien F. Foundations of Morality: The Mystery of Pity // Comparative Philosophy: Moral philosophy in the context of cultural diversity. M.: Vostochnaya lit., 2004. P. 70).

Representatives of “Western-type” cultures, being “inside” the Western intellectual tradition, perceive the East in a “Western” interpretation. Therefore, so-called Orientalism appears to them as a Western reflection of culture in the light of Eastern culture. However, the solution to the question of the basis for the difference between Western and Eastern cultures should be sought primarily not in some external conditions of their existence, but in their characteristic way of self-description, i.e. in the reflection of cultures. Within the framework of comparative studies of these cultures, a huge amount of material has been accumulated and already fully systematized, which includes not only classical texts and cultural monuments, but also data from numerous testing experiments that remove the uncertainty of purely “humanitarian” interpretations.

“Minimal disagreements” regarding the significance of the specific features of Eastern (Chinese) culture are seen by Western Sinologists in the following positions: 1) the presence of a symbiotic relationship between the spheres of personal, social, political and cosmic; 2) the process of self-improvement through ritualized existence; 3) the central importance of communication and the adaptation of language to its needs; 4) the inseparability of cognitive and affective dimensions of experience; 5) understanding the heart-mind (xin) (or “thinking and feeling”) as a disposition to action, and not as a structure of ideas and beliefs; 6) interpretation of knowledge as an epistemology of care ( an episte mology of caring ): the central concept is faith, trust , and not truth ; 7) the predominance of correlative rather than dualistic thinking; 8) the desire for self-realization as authenticity in practical activities ( authentication in practice ); 9) family and kinship nature of all relationships; 10) the centrality of family and filial piety; 11) high value of universal harmony; 12) priority of ritual correctness over rules or laws; 13) the role of exemplary examples; 14) the didactic function of the sage as a specialist in the field of communications; 15) practical wisdom as a focus on the everyday; 16) recognition of the continuity of the line (continuity) from the human to the divine, etc. (See: Ames R. T. Dialogue between Confucianism and pragmatism by J. Dewey // Comparative philosophy: Moral philosophy in the context of the diversity of cultures. M.: Eastern lit, 2004. P. 93).

Experimental data indicate that Asian people see and understand relationships better than Western people, but are worse at identifying objects from the environment. They better grasp the context of a situation or an object’s behavior. While Western children learn nouns faster than verbs, Eastern children learn the opposite. Eastern mentality tends to group objects depending on their relationships to each other, while Western mentality involves categorizing them. The Eastern sees variability where the Western sees stability.

Richard Nisbett, author of the 2003 book The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why ” (NY .: Free Press , 2003. 264 p) believes that the Chinese view events as something built into a meaningful whole, the elements of which are constantly changing and rearranged; the corresponding ideas of Western science and systems thinking are holism, adaptation and evolution. R. Nisbett says that the Chinese do not apply the law of excluded middle; corresponding ideas in Western science and philosophy are “degrees of truth” and “fuzzy logic”; Chinese thinking allows for an incompatibility between “A” being the case and not being the case, which seems to contradict the non-pluralistic, totalitarian, authoritarian control of Chinese society, social media and the treatment of religious minorities.

He tends to pit China against the US, whereas another writer might pit Europe against the US. (See: Nisbett RE The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why . NY: Free Press, 2003. 264 p).

Typically, the explanation for these differences is based on the fact that mental structures are a model of social relations and are ultimately associated with the following well-known circumstance: Western cultures (and social structures) are generally individualistic, while Eastern ones are collectivist in nature.

Naturally, it is impossible to consider all existing concepts of differences between Eastern and Western “types of cultures.” Among the works presented in Russian (including in translation), where the problem of the basis for distinguishing the reflection of the cultures of the East and the West is presented most clearly, we can name such authors as T.P. Grigorieva, M. Granet, A.M. Pyatigorsky, A.I. Kobzev, E. A. Torchinov, V.V. Malyavin and others. In this material we will dwell on the works of the Russian orientalist-Japaneseist T.P. Grigorieva (1929-2014) and the French sinologist Marcel Granet (1884-1940). The choice of these authors was made due to their originality and accessibility for independent conclusions.

In the book by T.P. Grigorieva “Tao and Logos (meeting of cultures)” (Moscow, 1992) most fully developed this opposition, which has become a completely familiar terminological pair for a concise description of the essence of the difference that takes place between the worldviews, philosophies and cultures of the East and West (one of the first This opposition began to be used by the Russian sinologist Academician V. M. Alekseev – E. B.). As T.P. writes Grigoriev, these two words contain “Two global Ideas, points of view on the world, two paradigms: what the world strives for (Logos), and how it does it (Tao). It is difficult to imagine our world outside of Reason (logos) and outside of the Path (Tao). One complements the other: the world Mind, mental potential and way of life, the law of unfolding of the Whole. Both, each in its own way, organize life in the Universe. And could, in principle, Logos and Tao do this in the same manner, that is, perform their world-building function in the same way, if the law of the Whole is the unity of different things, functional asymmetry?” (p. 40). The main premise of this thesis is that the cultural fate of the civilizations of the East (China) and the West (Europe) is a manifestation of the fundamental asymmetry in the composition of the Whole, the way it unfolds into the world of existence.

In the collective monograph “Tao and Telos in the semantic dimension of Eastern and Western cultures” (Vladivostok, 2011) D.V. Kononchuk offers a terminological formulation that is more accurate in his opinion and a more strict description of the unfolding Integrity of being: “If Logos is literally understood as a synonym for Reason and in this capacity is opposed to Tao, then this will mean depriving the culture of Tao of rationality. Therefore, the term Logos, as a designation of one side of the opposition, should be replaced and this side should be called Telos ( τέλος , translated from ancient Greek means “goal.” In modern Greek it means “end” – E.B.); and the Whole should be understood as the Meaning of the existence of existing things” (p. 49).

The basis for such clarification is given by T.P. herself. Grigoriev, when she consistently interprets Logos as “the “goal of Being,” its realization is being in Truth: ideal order, Cosmos. And Tao is the Path to this goal; following the Tao, going through cycle after cycle, “the world moves towards Good,” or towards the realization of its own Entelechy (an internal force that potentially contains a goal and final results – E.B.) .But the Goal and the Means are united, together, together they fulfill the world plan, that is, they are not contradictory, they complement each other: if the Logos is life according to Reason (Noosphere), then Tao is the means of achieving it. That is why Tao is called the “moral law,” from which one cannot deviate one step, either to the right or to the left” (p. 359).

The advantage of the book by T.P. Grigorieva is a promising principle of dialogue between the cultures of East and West. Probably the main pathos of “Tao and Logos”, its core idea, which is expressed in the position of many humanist thinkers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. — Leo Tolstoy, Vivekananda, Okakura Kakuzo, Abai, Mahatma Gandhi, etc., is to “be imbued with the teachings of others, without ceasing to cultivate our own individuality and develop in accordance with our own laws… We have walked different paths for a long time, but why don’t we not complement each other?” (p . 4-5, 39).

East and West for T. P. Grigorieva are not self-developing regions, but two Parts of a single Whole, like yin and yang, like two hemispheres of the brain. “We should not strive for the difference between them to disappear (this is still impossible, just as it is impossible to remove the second side of a sheet), but for them to face each other, in the words of the poet. It is not the difference that must disappear, but the misunderstanding… East and West recognize themselves in each other” (pp. 29-30). It is this approach that is called metacultural, where the basic principle of the existence of culture – the principle of gift – becomes the principle of intercultural interactions.

Therefore, the statement of the Kazakh philosopher, student of E.V., is largely true. Ilyenkova (1924-1979) A.A. Khamidov, that “… the specificity of the East and the West, their differences from each other are ontologically rooted. At the same time, East and West are rooted not in different, but in the same objective Ontology. This is the ontology of the Universe and Man, Cosmos and Macrocosmos. Therefore, in their universal essence ¬, both the Man of the East and the Man of the West are one and the same; equally the same is facing both” (Khamidov A.A. East and West: the specifics of the relationship between worldview and methodology // Methodology of science in the context of the interaction of Eastern and Western cultures. Alma-Ata: Azyl Kitaby, 1998. P. 26 -27).

In turn, the outstanding French sinologist M. Granet (1884-1940), beginning his work on the specifics of Chinese thinking “Chinese Thought” (1934) with the words “Ancient China had not so much Philosophy as Wisdom” (Granet M. Chinese Thought / Trans. from the French by V. B. Iordansky (M.: Respublika, 2004. P. 5), laid down in it his understanding of the differences between Western and Chinese thinking. If Western thinking is analytical, correlated with formal logic, then Chinese thinking is associative or correlative. This character of thinking is predominantly manifested in those methods of classification that were adopted in ancient China and are the main material of research for Granet. This thinking does not obey the logic of generic division, does not think of a thing in its substantiality and therefore in no way corresponds to the principles of typological classification established in European thinking. The Chinese language itself does not allow this. Chinese classifications know neither contradiction nor causality, and this should not seem strange, since they contain a completely understandable principle, called in the Confucian tradition “the feeling of good agreement.” From this principle Granet derives all Chinese wisdom. Chinese wisdom unites and distinguishes things and properties not from the point of view of their similarity and difference (which is required by the basic law of formal logic – the law of identity), but within the framework of their relevance and involvement with each other in order to accomplish something useful or good. This kind of association and correlation is the principle of creating life complexes (a set of tools for cultivating a field, family composition, natural principles, etc.). This way of seeing things and the world in their relations of participation, where the own qualities of a thing do not play an independent meaning, is both more fundamental and more vital than the abstract typological approach that flourished in European science.

Considering the specifics of Chinese thinking by M. Granet, on the one hand, we can agree with the universal human nature of correlative (associative) thinking, but at the same time recognize that Chinese thought is radically different from Western thought in that it makes this way of thinking dominant, recessively relegating it to the background, of course an analytical way of thinking familiar to her. “Following the leading idea of the Chinese mentality about the unity (non-duality) of opposites (Yin-Yang type), one should agree that thinking is binary in nature. Thinking is forced to “turn” to solving life (cognitive and practical) problems on one of its sides, and never on both sides at once. It is easy to see that Chinese thought was predominantly “turned” to life’s challenges by its associative side, in a special way including analytical structures in the correlative order of thought” (Tao and telos in the semantic dimension of Eastern and Western cultures: Monograph. Vladivostok: Dalnevost Publishing House. Federal University, 2011, p. 53).

Thus, despite the fact that the philosophies (types of thinking) of the East and West give different pictures of the world, they, that is, “types of culture”, nevertheless, meaningfully emphasize different aspects of the same process and fill them with content in different ways. In order to “behold” their unity, it is enough to understand that “love of wisdom” (ancient Greek φιλοσοφία literally “love of wisdom; love of wisdom” – E.B. ) begins not with an abstract analysis of existence, but as a teaching about the good life. Then it becomes clear that how and what Socrates, Plato and Aristotle taught in meaning (but not discursively) is not much different from what Confucius, Lao Tzu and their students said, who formalized the teachings of their Teachers (老师, L ǎ osh ī) into the system of Confucian and Taoist cultural tradition.

Erkin Baydarov for the China Studies Centre.

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