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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

4. A Complementarity of Civilizations: East and West is Best

Eaton, Liberty and Johann Louw. Culture and Self in South Africa. Journal of Social Psychology. 140/2, 2000. A comparative study of African language and English-speaking peoples finds that native Africans tend to a collective interdependence while Europeans favor individualism.

Fagiolo, Giorgio and Marina Mastrorillo. The International Migration Network. Physical Review E. 88/012812, 2013. To start, it is worth notice that papers like this about domains far removed from space-time-matter subjects are increasingly found in physics journals, for some a majority of topics. Here Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, and Princeton University, economists and social scientists describe how these human travels and travails over the earth, driven by strife, famine, weather, or in search of better lives and opportunity, can yet be found to exhibit and hold to common mathematical topologies. To reflect, might global humankind lately come to the realization, intimated but unbeknownst, that our passages are moved and constrained by another deeper domain, at once cosmic and local, which if we can altogether discern might illume and guide our way?

This paper studies international migration from a complex-network perspective. We define the international-migration network (IMN) as the weighted-directed graph where nodes are world countries and links account for the stock of migrants originated in a given country and living in another country at a given point in time. We characterize the binary and weighted architecture of the network and its evolution over time in the period 1960-2000. We find that the IMN is organized around a modular structure characterized by a small-world pattern displaying disassortativity and high clustering, with power-law distributed weighted-network statistics. We also show that a parsimonious gravity model of migration can account for most of observed IMN topological structure. (Abstract)

Friedman, Thomas. A Titanic Geopolitical Struggle Is Underway. New York Times. January 24, 2024. In his weekly column, the veteran commentator, author and interviewer came to a perception of middle east internecine violence as a battle between two polarities. As the quote says, one is trying to hold onto power while the other sees how flawed this is and seeks a beneficial tolerance. Here is the old clash of civilizations that needs to be realized as actual complements of each other, as this section tries to document. As a note, at the Davos Economic Summit this month, capitalism was often pitted against socialism.

On one side is the Resistance Network, dedicated to preserving closed, autocratic systems where the past buries the future. On the other side is the Inclusion Network, trying to forge more open, connected, pluralizing systems where the future buries the past. Who wins the struggles between these two networks will determine a lot about the dominant character of this post-post-Cold War epoch.

Gabella, Maxime. Structures of Knowledge from Wikipedia Networks. arXiv:1708.05368. Reported more in Mindkind Knowledge, an Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, physicist scholar achieves an ingenious discernment of inherent, spontaneous self-organized patterns of knowledge content in this vast public encyclopedia. The grand finding, as the quotes convey, is that the same complementarity of Eastern and Western civilizational cognitive attributes reported in that section herein seem to be manifestly evident via his webwork analysis of relative subject area interests and emphasis. ONCE

Greenfield, Patricia, et al. Cultural Pathways through Universal Development. Annual Review of Psychology. 54/462, 2003. A survey of the quantified realization that the Western paradigm of independence, individualism and autonomy needs to be revised and expanded to include Eastern interdependent, collectivist, and relational complements.

Gregg, Gary. The Middle East: A Cultural Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. A well researched study by the Kalamazoo college psychologist of Arab-Muslin cultures from Morocco to India. Two main parts cover a social, religious, and ecological context and consequent stages of an individual’s psychological development. The latter aspect runs from indigenous child-rearing practices to gender reversals past middle age. Gregg takes an incisive look at the Individualism-Collectivism options as they pertain to West and East. Within each polar hemisphere opposite traits are also apparent. Of much interest is that this Middle East crescent is realy not collectivist as usually characterized but a mixture of personal independence and group loyalities, at once “egocentric and sociocentric.” It is just this mode, I add, by which Islamic cultures could take on a role as a corpus callosum-like bridge between East and West, along with South and North.

Han, Shihui. The Sociocultural Brain: A Cultural Neuroscience Approach to Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. The author is a distinguished professor at the Department of Psychology and a principle investigator at PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Peking University. From his Asian vista, a guiding, informative theme is a presence of bicameral eastern and western hemispheric complements. Han is often a coauthor with Ernst Poppel (search) and others about this global faculty.

How is the human brain shaped by our sociocultural experiences? What neural correlates underlie the extraordinary cultural diversity of human behavior? Shihui Han provides a new perspective on human brain functional organization, highlighting the role of human sociocultural experience and its interaction with genes in shaping human brain and behavior. Drawing on research from the burgeoning field of cultural neuroscience, it reveals the cross-cultural differences in human brain activity that underlie cognitive and affective processes including visual perception/attention, memory, causal attribution, inference of others' mental states, self-reflection, and empathy.

Han, Shihui and Ernst Poppel, eds. Culture and Neural Frames of Cognition and Communication. Berlin: Springer, 2011. This volume in the On Thinking series based on a Sino-German workshop on cognitive neurosciences, Beijing 2008, is reviewed much more in A Complementary Brain and Thought Process.

Han, Shihui and Yina Ma. Cultural Differences in Human Brain Activity: A Quantitative Meta-Analysis. Neuroimage. 99/293, 2014. Peking University and Johns Hopkins University neuropsychologists discern a novel, actual attribution of complementary East/West behavioral mores to a person’s own cerebral, asymmetric propensities. This equation then allows our hemispheric left/right dot detail or integral relation to be projected onto similar civilizational behavioral traits. As the Abstract notes, akin to Stephen Grossberg’s 2017 (search) findings, a dorsal stream preference for slower images and ventral fast object emphasis can be seen to distinguish these global halves. Search Junpeng Lao for an earlier testimony. As this precious finite world tears itself apart over these very political, racial, national polarities, such grand resolutions as this remain within these journals.

Psychologists have been trying to understand differences in cognition and behavior between East Asian and Western cultures within a single cognitive framework such as holistic versus analytic or interdependent versus independent processes. However, it remains unclear whether cultural differences in multiple psychological processes correspond to the same or different neural networks. We conducted a quantitative meta-analysis of 35 functional MRI studies to examine cultural differences in brain activity engaged in social and non-social processes. We showed that social cognitive processes are characterized by stronger activity in the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, lateral frontal cortex and temporoparietal junction in East Asians but stronger activity in the anterior cingulate, ventral medial prefrontal cortex and bilateral insula in Westerners. The results suggest that cultural differences in social and non-social processes are mediated by distinct neural networks. Moreover, East Asian cultures are associated with increased neural activity in the brain regions related to inference of others' mind and emotion regulation whereas Western cultures are associated with enhanced neural activity in the brain areas related to self-relevance encoding and emotional responses during social cognitive/affective processes. (Abstract excerpts)

Taken together, it may be proposed that the Western/East Asian cultures influence the social cognitive and affective processes by modulating the weight of different nodes of the social brain network. Such cultural modulations of the social brain network produce culturally specific cognitive/neural strategies (e.ge, holistic versus analytic stance, paying attention to self versus others, or keeping high versus low arousal states), which allow individuals to fit into their sociocultural environments and behave in culturally appropriate ways during social interactions. (297)

Harter, Susan. The Construction of the Self. New York: Guilford Press, 2012. In this 2nd edition, a chapter “Cross-Cultural and Multicultural Considerations” gives an extensive review of quantified findings that complementary hemispheres of Me individualist agency and We collective interaction do in fact represent bilateral global cultures. Along with tables contrasting Independent Individualism with Interdependent Collectivism, a distinction is made of “Western self” as a a separate, isolated entity, while “Eastern self” is a more blended balance of person within community. This later mode is also akin to traditional African “ubuntu” reciprocity. And the polarity aligns with male and female brain proclivities as men hold to the Left side, but women actually employ a balance of Right and Left and a Whole mind effectiveness.

Heine, Steven and Takeshi Hamamura. In Search of East Asian Self-Enhancement. Personality and Social Psychology Review. 11/1, 2007. An Eastern propensity to defer self-esteem if favor of “self-improvement” in order to attain group approval, contrasts with a Western emphasis on individual engrandizement. Surely every personal shading in between is evident in both cultures, but these archetypal modes are seen to fairly characterize.

Henrich, Joseph and Michael Muthukrishna. The Origins and Psychology of Human Cooperation. Annual Review of Psychology. 72/207, 2020. We use this entry to collect recent papers by Harvard University and London School of Economics cultural psychologists (search each) and their colleagues which scope out an overdue move beyond a west/north emphasis so to include the other east/south complementary global cross-culture. This is an imperative historic correction that needs to be appreciated and implemented as these opposite but reciprocal modes tear each apart. A further aspect is identified as past and present conflicts rage across the continents. See also Psychology as a Historical Science in the Annual Review of Psychology (72/717, 2020) and Beyond Western, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) Psychology in Psychological Science (31/6, 2020), both with Michael Muthukrishna as lead author.

Human persons form an ultrasocial species. This sociality, however, cannot be fully explained by prior approaches from evolutionary biology, psychology, or economics. A truer understanding need account for the breadth and intensity of human cooperation along with variation found across cultures, behavioral and historic domains. Here, we introduce an expanded approach that considers how an interactive genetic and cultural evolution may have shaped the developing features, along with complementary differences. We discuss culture–gene coevolutionary hypotheses and the role of religions and marriage systems. (Abstract excerpt)

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