On Tuesday June 12th, The Confucius Institute of Ireland treated a privileged audience to a highly engaging and informative presentation by Profs. John G. Blair & Jerusha McCormack, on the cultural and ideological differences and similarities between Chinese and Western thinking.
The presentation was very interesting for Chinese and Irish audience members alike and it offered noteworthy insights into the ways in which different philosophies have shaped modern day society in China and the West. From physical manifestations in the ways in which we view the world through geographical maps with differing perspectives, to the schools of thought that determine how “Time” as is perceived in the respective cultures, all of the concepts were introduced in such a way as to afford the uninitiated interested attendee and the experienced scholar equally challenging food for thought.
The limiting effects of ethnocentrism on cultural appreciation were outlined and through a series of simple to understand points, attendees found that their minds were opened to whole new ways of looking at aspects of life that have heretofore been taken for granted. The ways in which art captures elements of the respective cultures was explored and so led to an appreciation of “Mind Maps” that could explain differences in Western and Chinese thinking and ways of life.
Well-known Oriental concepts such as “Yin-and-Yang” and “Chi” were explained to give a fuller appreciation of their meaning, and other theories such as “Dào” (a theory conceptualising a higher state of being) were discussed. All of the above was related to the day-to-day implications for culture and society; in the way that people interact with each other, in formalities and traditions such as respect for elders, the role of family in the past and in today’s world and the ramifications of globalisation and the shifting sands of time for both Oriental and Occidental ways of life.
The enlightening presentation ended with a jocular questions-and-answers session, in which Profs. Blair & McCormack took points from the audience and expertly elaborated on the many theories that had inspired the audience members to revisit the way in which they viewed the world from their own perspectives.