Western Philosophy vs Chinese Philosophy

Crucial question for Western Philosophy:

“What is the truth?” i.e. how to look before you leap.

Crucial question for Chinese Philosophy:

“Where is the Way?” i.e. how to leap without looking.

via A.C. Graham on page 3 of the ‘Disputers of the Tao’ who notes that

the crucial question for [Chinese philosophers] is not the Western philosopher’s ‘What is the truth?’ but ‘Where is the Way?’

Legibility, Control and Equilibrium in Economics

Peter Lewin notes that

It is an understanding of the incentivized behavior of human beings that allows us to understand and predict invisible-hand outcomes.
Yet, the complexity problem remains. Can we be certain, as a logical matter, that if certain conditions obtain, certain definite types of outcomes will result from the free market process? It is on this type of thinking that the more sophisticated Keynesians might base their arguments for benevolent and effective intervention in the face of economic crisis.

Both the invisible-hand and the mainstream Keynesian argument implicitly take legibility, predictability and stability to be desirable characteristics of economic outcomes. The Keynesian argument sees the illegibility and uncertainty as justification to put in place a system of control whereas the invisible-hand argument claims that the system is legible and at “equilibrium”. The latter operates in a fantasy land and the former through the very act of stabilisation renders stability all the more elusive.

Poirot vs Holmes: Rationalism vs Empiricism

From Bob Tostevin’s book ‘The Promethean Illusion: The Western Belief in Human Mastery of Nature’:

After Poirot has picked up whatever clues he deems relevant, he likes to retire to an armchair or maybe to a table, where he may steady his nerves by building a house of cards: there and then, voila! He uses what he calls his “little grey cells” to order reality and penetrate the truth lying behind the appearance of things. Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand, proceeds from start to finish looking for visible clues that ultimately will lead him to the truth. Holmes’ close observation of things is symbolized by the magnifying glass, and he will elicit from a person’s garment, perhaps a hat, a complete picture of that person’s age, socio-economic background, present financial status, psychological predispositions, etc. In contrast to Poirot’s ratiocinative brilliance, Holmes’ genius keeps always in direct observational touch with what the world offers him. Poirot is the French rationalist par excellence whereas Holmes is the English empiricist pure and simple.