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Eastern world

From Academic Kids

This article is part of the
series on Eastern culture
Eastern Culture, Society,
Philosophy, Medicine Religion
Asian art, culture,
China, India, Japan, Vietnam
Taoism, Confucianism,
Buddhism, Hinduism,
Shintoism, Sikhism
West/East distinction

Eastern world, Orient, Orientalism

ed (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=Template:Easternculture&action=edit)

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In the West, the term Eastern world refers very broadly to the various cultures, social structures and philosophical systems of "the East," namely Asia (including China, India, Japan, and surrounding regions).

Concept of "the East"

The division between "East" and "West" is a product of European cultural history, and of the distinction between European Christendom and the alien cultures beyond it to the East. Before the discovery of the Americas and the exploration of Sub-Saharan Africa only North Africa and other Islamic countries to the East were known in detail, though India and China were vaguely known of. The crusades established what became a border between "Eastern" and "Western" peoples. With the European colonisation of the Americas the East/West distinction became global. The concept of an Eastern or "Oriental" sphere was emphasised by ideas of racial as well as religious and cultural differences. Such distinctions were articulated by Westerners in the scholarly tradition known as Orientalism.

Currently terms such as Western, Near East (or Middle-East) and Far East are commonly used to distinguish different cultural spheres, based on the standard two-dimensional layout of the world-map, which has the Americas at the far left (West), Europe and Africa in the middle, and Asia to the right (East). This arrangement has been criticised for being Eurocentric, however the notional 'central-point' between East and West would be to the east of Europe. Some countries, in particular Russia, do not fit neatly into this opposition.

Problem of the concept

While Western Orientalist traditions included both Islamic and further Eastern cultures under the generic heading of "the East", the common Abrahamic traditions of Islam and Christianity mean that a case can be made that both Islam and Christianity together form a different cultural sphere from countries further to the East in which the concept of Dharma plays a far more important role than that of an authoritative God. In recent years the concept of "Eastern culture" has increasingly become restricted to East Asian traditions. However, the exisence of Islam as a powerful force in countries such as Indonesia makes this usage problematic.

See also

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