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ARGeezer: How does the "nature" vs. "nurture" question play in Chinese culture?

I deferred on this question in the hopes I would have time to research it a bit, but I don't think that's going to happen.  Too big and complex a question, but off the top of my head, two points come to mind:

On the one hand, there may be a subtle sort of Chinese ethnic, maybe racial, supremacism, where "Chinese" is understood to denote the overwhelmingly predominant Chinese "Han ethnicity"*.  (It's similar to Japanese ethnic/racial supremacism, or exceptionalism, except that the Chinese version is blighted by over a hundred years of humiliating invasions and subordination suffered at the hands of foreigners.)  If so, it would imply a belief that certain racial/ethnic characteristics -- good or bad -- are inherent and unchangeable.

On the other hand, there is this:

Compared to American mothers, Chinese and Japanese mothers believe that scholastic achievement is far more dependent on the amount of effort a child expends than on his or her innate intelligence (Stevenson & Lee, 1990).  In other words, Asian parents adopt a more incremental perspective on ability than American parents do -- a perspective that seems to carry over to their children and may prevent Asian youngsters from acting helpless when they experience difficulties with their lessons.  We will explore this intriguing cultural difference in more detail when we consider the topic of schooling and scholastic influences in Chapter 12.

David R. Shaffer, Social and Personality Development (Edition 6: 2008) p.225

Both of these are massive generalizations that should be taken with correspondingly massive grains of salt (though the second is based on actual research, presumably, and the first is based on my own very limited and subjective perceptions).  But if there is any kernel of truth in them, according to these perspectives, nature would trump nurture among nations/ethnicities/races, but nurture would trump nature within the Chinese/Han population.

*I put "Han ethnicity" in quotes, because I suspect that lots of supposed "Han" Chinese are in fact descended from various other ethnic groups who were assimilated and amalgamated into the Han through the centuries.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 at 10:33:30 AM EST
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With Chinese civilization being autochthnous it would be interesting to see how this issue is framed in that culture.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 23rd, 2010 at 03:08:31 PM EST
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