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Eastern Thought vs. Western Thought – How does it shape our culture today?

Sunday April 14 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm CEST

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Why do people from different cultural backgrounds behave and think differently – if at all? A historical and philosophical lens. My name is Dhruv Ghulati and I am an AI entrepreneur and work in technology. I have lived in Hong Kong, Thailand, Qatar, across the Indian subcontinent, London and the Netherlands. You can find some of my writing on Medium.

As an Indian immigrant living in Amsterdam, receiving a British education, and fitting into English culture, I have always tried to grapple with my South Asian roots while trying to deeply understand Western ways of living. I have always thought – why do Indians think like this or behave like this in the workplace? Why do my British friends speak about a given subject in that way?

This open-ended salon will explore nuanced cultural, religious, and historical ideas – but these distinctions are not perfect or all-encompassing. Psychologists suggest that a major source of difference is geography impacting how societies are organized, and so you may also find contradictory tendencies among the geographic diversity within the East and West. Our historical perspective is concerned with broad tendencies in culture, religion, politics, science, technology, and more. As recent as 2016, an article in AI & Society studied how cultural thought patterns impacted different frameworks for the development of science and technology. Is this true? And what does this look like for those of us who are between cultures?

A rough overview of popular perception:

Eastern philosophy is associated with an emphasis on the harmony between humanity and nature, focusing on achieving inner peace, balance, and enlightenment. Practices and teachings in Eastern philosophy, such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Hinduism, stress personal improvement, self-cultivation, and the interconnectedness of all things. The histories of Asia’s major civilizations—China, India, Japan, and others—have deeply influenced Eastern philosophies. The historical spread of religions like Buddhism across Asia also facilitated a synthesis of ideas and cultural exchange, contributing to a rich tapestry of philosophical thought that emphasises continuity, moral duties, and social harmony.

Traditionally more analytical and theoretical, Western philosophy has historically been associated with an emphasis on the importance of logic, empirical evidence, and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Beginning with the Ancient Greeks and moving through the Renaissance to modern times, it has often sought to understand the world through a dualistic lens, separating mind from body, and individuals from their environment. The Enlightenment further propelled the emphasis on individual rights, scientific inquiry, and scepticism of authority. Historical events in Europe and the Americas, such as the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution, and the political revolutions of the 18th century, encouraged a focus on progress, individualism, and rationality.

The two streams of thought provide complementary perspectives on issues such as ethics, governance, science, personal well-being, democracy, human rights, scientific progress, technological advancement, environmental degradation, inequality, psychology, medicine. Others suggest the views are not so different after all.

This salon will explore these topics and more and allow us to freely explore our own personal perspectives.

Recommended Reading:

Karmageddon: East vs. West?

Eastern Thought from a Western Perspective

How Do I Benefit from both Eastern and Western Cultures to Rethink About “Death”, and To Live Fully

East vs. West: How geography impacts work culture across the world

Eastern Thought Misunderstood By Western Minds

Chasing Descartes’ Ghost — Part 4: Eastern Thoughts > Hinduism

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Sunday April 14
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm CEST
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Ticket price (US$)
Debut host ($10)