cultural dialogue explanation
Joel D. Benedict
University of Advancing Technology
Summary of cultural impacts
Definitions of culture and thought
The co-dependent effects of culture and thought
Greek and Indian culture transfers
How we told it in the dialogue
Culture Dialogue Explanation
This report explains our dialogue between characters from different cultures in order to demonstrate concepts in thinking psychology. We begin with support from texts and from our previous writings of the links between culture and thought and end with exposition of how the dialog highlights the concepts.
Before we proceed with a discussion of the impacts of culture and thought on each other, we must define the terms. Culture is “an abstraction of a system of shared meanings that both reflect and inform socially shared phenomena such as practices, institutions, and technology (Sternberg, 1994, p. 370).” This means that culture is a set of common traits that affect other common traits held by other groups. Culture “can be construed as a system of social relationships, as an organized system of meanings that inform the interpretation of those relationships and practices (p. 371).” This means that human interactions and beliefs—“interpretation”—determine the activities individuals repeat en masse. Thus, culture consists of beliefs, interactions, and recurrent activities. Thought is composed of three rudimentary qualitative principles that determine how the mind represents stimuli: encoding perceptions, inference (relationship comparison), and application of inference to a new domain (Sternberg, 1994, pp. 272-273). Thought is the processing of information and the new domain of culture applies shared meanings and interpretations to the information.
Culture affects cognitive structural organization. Structuralization is “domain specific and more closely tied to institutionalized practices than the better known concept of a culturally specific cognitive style (p. 375).” In other words, certain thought patterns and philosophies become ingrained because of common cultural practices. Thought and culture are co-dependent affecters: “It should be reiterated here that an intellectual fermentation means a social reaction to the persuasive methods or concepts that have created social imbalance (Rahula, 2001, p. 121).” This means that thought concepts cause social imbalances, which in turn leads to a change in thought, which will lead to a change in the society.
The basis of our dialog is that Greeks sought inspiration from other cultures and found it partly in Indian philosophy: “not only did the early Greek speculations grow out the Ionians' perennial desire to learn from foreign sources, but Indian speculative concepts could also have reached Greece by the mid-fifth century B.C.E. (p. 142).” This shows that the Greek's ideas were not completely independently generated, but were gained through the mixing of multiple cultures and thoughts. The Greeks were influenced by transmigration to the East, taking philosophies with them: “modern scholars' argument that Pythagoras' predecessors could have borrowed from the East and the repeated evidence that Pythagoras lived in the East for nearly three decades provide strong support for such a conclusion (p. 154).” These two pieces of evidence are exemplary of culture influencing philosophy and thought, which in turn influences culture. Around 155 B.C.E., there was a mingling of nationalities in Greece, leading to a spread of thought: “Eastern thought spread far into the West and was often adopted and absorbed by native religions, keeping intact titles and ritualistic elements that were grafted onto one another in curious fashions (Butler III, 1998, p. 42).” The change in beliefs led to changes in the way people lived, so that the Grecians added the behaviors of the East to their own. In summary, the parallels between Indian and Greek philosophy illustrate that thought receives influences from regional cultures, behaviors, and in turn conveys beliefs and philosophies to other cultures.
Now that we have textual support for the ideas in the dialog, we can explain how the dialog illustrates the concepts. The dialog reenacts the culture and thought transfer between an Indian and a Greek. The dialog starts with the need of the Greek for supplementary knowledge: the Greek wants to expound his ideas for the mind with the help of the Indian. The Greek communicates his perceptions (fire and water mix to make animals), compares the perceptions (humans behave differently from animals), but needs the help of the Indian to apply the connections to a new domain of thought. The Indian and Greek exchange cultural information on the practices, institutions, and technology: the fifth century B.C.E. community of the Indian acknowledges reincarnation in their everyday lives. The transfer results in a change of thought on the part of the two, which in turn results in a change in the way the Greek affects society: the Greek decides to retire early based on the Indian practice of Vanaprastha. Finally, the Greek communicates the way he now affects society, which gives the Greek cause to relay his ideas about speculative concepts, philosophy, and beliefs: the mind is infinite and caused changes in human behavior once the mind realized the potential of humanity.
In conclusion, we have shown the pattern of basic thought leads to ideas which change beliefs which in turn change the way people behave and act out their values.
Butler III, J. (1998, Spring). Greek philosophical thought and its essential unity and synthesis with eastern ideas. Retrieved February 4, 2011, from ProQuest: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb/?did=738254791&sid=1&Fmt=6&clientId=14116&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Rahula, B. (2001). The untold story about greek rational thought: buddhist and other indian rationalist influences on sophist rhetoric. Retrieved February 5, 2011, from http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb/?did=728373031&sid=1&Fmt=6&clientId=14116&RQT=309&VName=PQD
Sternberg, R. J. (Ed.). (1994). Thinking and problem solving (2nd ed.). Stony Brook, NY: Academic Press.