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Chinese and Greek Thought

The Chinese alphabet is not properly so called but an ideogram collection of "thousands of different characters" (Matalene 791). For a Chinese to be literate, he or she must memorize a large set of nonrepetitive characters, which implies an obligation to memorize "the culture itself" (792).

The Western linguistic structure that originated in Greece did not spring forth fully formed. It evolved "from people who responded to the dangers of existence by inventing stories about unpredictable or disgruntled deities. For a long time the human instinct to understand was thwarted [because] . . . every tree and meadow had its dryad and maenad" (Sagan 173-4). At about 500 BC, however, in the Greek colonial islands of Ionia, there began a systematic demythologization of the cosmos that was "one of the great ideas of the human species." Sagan continues:

The universe is knowable, the ancients argued, because it exhibits an internal order: there are regularities in Nature that permit its secrets to be uncovered. Nature is not entirely unpredictable; there are rules even she must obey (Sagan 175).

The Ionian revolution "made Cosmos out of Chaos" (Sagan 175). Thus "free inquiry"--plus refinement of the Phoenician alphabet--emerged, though by no means did it dispose of superstition (Socrates was condemned as an atheist). What survived vis--vis superstition was what Whi


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