East–West dichotomy  

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"Time and again, in the world's history, where East meets West, the spirit of romance has been born. Herodotus on his travels, Heliodorus carrying Ethiopian traditions to his bishopric, Apuleius the Carthaginian sojourning at Rome, are all parents of prose romance; and in mediaeval legend, Alexander in correspondence with the Brahmins, Charlemagne in conflict with the Moors, furnish the same unfailing inspiration."--The English Novel (1894) by Walter Raleigh

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East-West dichotomy is the concept of two separate cultural hemispheres, an Eastern world contrasting with a Western world. Although the geographic orientation can be variable, the traditional concept places the Occident in opposition to the Orient. The Occident or Western world includes Europe and areas where European cultures became dominant, such as the Americas and Australia. The Eastern world or Orient includes the Middle East, the Islamic world, India and the Far East (East Asia and Southeast Asia). Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific fall outside this dichotomy.

Another more recent development of East-West dichotomy describes the clash between the communist nations of the Soviet Bloc and China and the democracies of Western Europe and the United States. These cultural contrasts were emphasized by the geopolitical divide created during the Cold War. The Marxist cultural revolution caused Chinese historians to create historiography which highlighted the West-China divide.

The East-West discourse has roots in differences between Greek and Chinese worldviews and philosophical origins, and became popular during the orientalism movement of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The concept often defines the West as an objective analytical society, usually in regard to technology and industrial advancement. In contrast, the East is viewed as a subjective intuitive-based society, usually emphasizing spirituality and mysticism. Those who advocate the doctrine find it reflected in art, demography, education, history, ideology, linguistics, medicine, philosophy, politics, psychology, science-fiction, sociology and gender roles.

The contrast between the Orient and the Occident has been made by both Westerners and Asians. These include historians, scientists, educators and philosophers, such as Juergen Habermas, Edmund Husserl, Claude Levi-Strauss, Lee Kuan Yew, Li Dazhao, G. E. R. Lloyd, Halford Mackinder, Kishore Mahbubani, Donella Meadows, Joseph Needham, Richard Nisbett, Kitaro Nishida, Edward W. Said, Amartya Kumar Sen, Oswald Spengler, Rabindranath Tagore, Arnold Joseph Toynbee, and Max Weber.

Most historians reject the concept of East-West dichotomy as being oversimplified. The contention is that both Oriental and Occidental cultures are too diversified and varied to be viewed as singular societal forms. Instead, they emphasize that analysis of philosophy, technology, art and other historical subjects needs to be examined from both regional and global perspectives.

See also

EastWest dichotomy

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