Geography of Thought

Upcoming event, Wednesday 29th October 2008:

“Geography of Thought”

How Asians and Westerners Think Differently

This curious little book is written by psychologist Richard E. Nisbett and serves as a manual on the different cognitive processes that we can loosely term ‘East’ and ‘West’. The book began as it slowly dawned on the author that it is more than just cultural traditions that separate the way that Asians think from their Western counterparts. Psychology he discovered, is geared towards the Western mind set, and while humans have common patterns of behaviour, to be effective with a different angle of cognition, psychology has to take into consideration the Eastern mindset.

The result is a well researched book that, despite using generalisations, manages to steer a calm, rational and well researched course through the different ways of thinking. In short, the Greeks and their cultural heirs, used Occham’s razor to compartmentalise things, categorise, and look at things in isolation. They even invented the idea of ‘nature’ which was everything in the natural world when humans have been stripped out of it. The Chinese approach was very different. They have much more of a ‘systems’ approach seeing a thing not in isolation to its environment, but in its relationship to the greater whole. The result is cultures that look out for the individual, and those that look out for the harmony of the whole.

Through the book Nisbett avoids any kind of judgement, not seeking to champion one side over the other, but simply to highlight the way that the mind works in different geographical locations.


Curiously, Indian Buddhism tended towards the Greek outlook, of isolating parts, categories and rules. The Buddhism that the Chinese developed centuries later, took on a more Taosit approach, looking not so much for enlightenment as an ultimate and separate “Truth”, but enlightenment as a ‘Way’ of being in the world. In many ways this is much more in tune with the Buddha’s own teachings rather than the way that Indian Buddhism developed with its 17+ schools, grand universities, and abhidhamma style categorisation of … well pretty much everything in the cosmos.


The Bangkok Book Club will be meeting to discuss this handy little book on Wednesday 29th October, at 7:30pm in the bookshop Books @ 53 which is on Sukhumvit soi 53. If you have not been to the book club before, this might be a good chance to see what it is all about. If you want to connect to the club please use the comments box below, or use the CONTACT page and it will be forwarded (email addresses are not shown on this page since spam bots traul the web sites looking for valid emails to spam to).


The group is for people who are interested in reading and want to meet up with like-minded souls who enjoying talking about books.
We meet on the last Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm at the bookstore known as Books @ 53 in Sukhumvit Soi 53.
The group is made up of people from different nationalities and backgrounds and there are men and women in the group.
Books that have been chosen for discussion in the past have covered a number of subjects and from authors from around the world. All books chosen are in English.
The meetings are very relaxed and informal. Members come and go, as often they have to miss our meetings due to work and other commitments. There is no application form or fees involved, though we ask for a 50baht donation, as there is tea/coffee available from the coffee shop and wine at the meetings. Each meeting is focused around one book that has previously been chosen by the members attending earlier meetings. Please do join us for any of our meetings; we are always looking for new members. All you need do is attend any of our meetings.

Books @ 53 is large bookstore just 200m on the left as you turn into Soi 53 from Sukhumvit; the nearest Skytrain is ThongLor.
There is a 10% discount for books purchased by Bookclub members