Chinese Language, Chinese Mind?

Christian Helmut Wenzel


Shall East and West never meet? Of course they do. But do they “really” understand each other? And what role does language play in this? Chinese is different from English, so is Classical Chinese from Classical Greek or Latin. But does this account for cultural differences? Do Chinese think differently from Westerners, because they speak a different language? It has often been said that the Chinese did not develop abstract sciences or formal logic, because their language was not suitable for this, because it lacked a formal grammar with inflection, and because the script was pictographic or ideographic and not phonetic. There are at least two questions in all of this: First, does language determine thought? Second, is Chinese different from Western languages in ways that play a role regarding the first question? It is on these two questions that we will focus.


20th century philosophy; linguistics; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; Chinese; concept; culture; language; meaning; mind; perception; Sapir Whorf hypothesis; word; writing

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