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Growing Import of Asia in World Economy

James Fallows in his introduction to Looking at the Sun reacts to the growing import of Asia in terms of the world economy, but he also finds that most Western societies see the information coming from Asia as a jumble and do not differentiate sufficiently among the various societies and tend to ignore the entire region unless there is a crisis to be addressed. He finds that Americans in particular tend to see the entire world as "one vast extension of their own culture" (4), which makes Americans ask what they would do if faced with a given situation. This is not always helpful, of course, as other societies have different priorities and may make their decisions on a different though equally valid basis. Other Western nations also tend to think that different people and cultures can be understood with the same mental tools. Fallows makes the important point that the West tends to be ethnocentric and so to judge others as if looking in a mirror. He suggests several assumptions on which this may be based, considers how we might change our thinking to reflect reality more clearly, and gives particular attention to Japan.

Fallows says that the central argument of the book is that Western societies, and especially American society, have been using the wrong mental tools to understand Asia. Westerners try to fit the facts into familiar patterns and categories which may not apply in this context. The mental habits used by Americans come from three sources: 1) the desire to convert, meaning to make all other people into Americans; 2) the assumption of superiority; and 3) misplaced scientific faith, giving Americans the sense that they can understand human behavior as scientifically as they may understand chemistry or physics.

Fallows therefore calls into question not just the way Americans think about Asia but the way they think about themselves and the world around them. In this case, he applies his concern to what Americans ...

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Growing Import of Asia in World Economy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:25, February 18, 2019, from