The Chinese Strategic Mind

The Chinese Strategic Mind

Hong Liu

This book addresses the fundamental issue: does the Chinese strategic mind have its own idiosyncrasies which differ considerably from those of the Western mind? It expounds and unravels the particular characteristics of the Chinese strategic mind: what they are, how they are evolved and what strategic implications they have. This book adopts a holistic approach to an analysis of Chinese strategic thinking, drawing upon the fields of literature (including the sources of both the Chinese and English languages), military studies, political science, history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, linguistics and business strategy. It combines a detailed consideration of these disciplines with a series of case studies to elucidate the formation, nature and crucial managerial implications of the idiosyncratic Chinese strategic mind.

Chapter 3: Language and thinking: the root of difference

Hong Liu

Subjects: business and management, asia business, business leadership, organisational behaviour, strategic management


One of the fundamental premises of this book is that the cognitive modes of different cultures differ, and it is essential to understand these differences in order to conduct unambiguous and effective cross-cultural communications and to understand fully the other party’s true meaning or intention for effective strategic development. Why, then, should cognitions differ among different cultures? What is the root of these differences? In the West, the idea that language influences human thought emerged at least as early as 1836 in the work of Wilhelm von Humboldt, a German philosopher, and it has long been an interesting question among linguists, philosophers, anthropologists and psychologists. A considerable body of literature can be found that has examined the language–thought relationship. Harold Innis is considered the first scholar to have explored ideas about how writing influences human thinking patterns. However, to date no consensus on the relationship has been reached. Two earlier major scholars, Benjamin Lee Whorf, an American linguist, and Edward Sapir, an American anthropologist–linguist, have suggested that thought is determined by the words and syntactic structure of a language. This is commonly known as the ‘Sapir–Whorf hypothesis’ or ‘Whorfian hypothesis’. It includes the following key points: ‘(1) languages vary in their semantic partitioning of the world; (2) the structure of one’s language influences the manner in which one perceives and understands the world; (3) therefore, speakers of different languages will perceive the world differently.’

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