Sunday, June 04, 2006

to compare or not to compare?

[NB: If you missed my very first audioblog, it's here.]

GM Jeonuchi (known by another name in a different incarnation... but his new blog looks exactly the same as before, which will reassure the conservatives and brand loyalists among you) has a thought-provoking post that riffs off Joel's recent interview experience at Seoul National. GMJ gets into the question of how we often compare the people of different countries, and questions the legitimacy of such comparisons and generalizations, though he does acknowledge that people manifest similarities along with differences.

Sperwer, back from a recent jaunt to Thailand, plunges right into the comparison game and has some interesting insights about some of the differences between Thais and Koreans.

Both posts are food for thought, especially when read one after the other. Personally, I'm a comparativist, particularly when it comes to issues of religion and culture. Humans are diverse, but our body geometry and musculature (and, arguably, our brain structure) limit the number of sounds and gestures we can make. Similarities are bound to appear between countries, cultures, and communities. Differences also appear, of course, and it's a toss-up as to whether people are fundamentally similar or fundamentally different. I'd say similarity and difference are not-two. You often find one erupting out of the other.


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