East – West. The Nature Of Value Opposition


The modern era is characterised by a global conflict between the East and the West. The West seeks global hegemony, imposture of its values, standards of living, and priorities on the rest of the world, while the East defends its cultural identity, economic autonomy, and political independence. The planetary confrontation between the two global forces has determined the direction of scientific research towards finding solutions to this conflict. In the discussions of the scientific community, various options are considered for the further interaction between the East and the West in a globalizing world. These options range from de-ideologization to a "global civilization" with common civilizational principles acceptable to all systems. The article examines the value foundations of the civilizations of the East and the West and presents a comparative analysis of the conditions for their formation. A conclusion is made that there is an immutable core of culture – traditional values – in Eastern and Western societies, where they interact. The article formulates a conclusion about the unchanging identity of the East and the West, leading in the future to competition and even a struggle between their value paradigms. Therefore, the issue of dialogue will remain relevant.

Keywords: Archetypes, civilization, collectivism, globalization, individualism, values


The West and the East are collective concepts, "ideal types". The West is the sum total of the characteristics of modern industrial civilization. The East is a type of traditional development based on human non-interference in the course of natural processes and conditions (Styopin, 2017; Tyugashev, 2020). The interaction of the East and the West from their dawn is a periodic alternation in their dominance. The local civilizations that originated in the East gave way to the primacy of antiquity, then from the Vth to the XVth century the initiative again passed to the East. Starting with the European modernism, the period of leadership of the West lasts.

The main contradiction of the modern era is the global conflict between the West and the East. The West seeks global hegemony, imposture of its values, standards of living, and priorities on the rest of the world, while the East defends its cultural identity, economic autonomy, and political independence (Dobrenkov, 2020; Gulevsky et al., 2019; Kolosova et al., 2020; Malygina, 2017) The extreme form of this confrontation is "global", "international" or "new" terrorism (Malygina, 2017).

Some authors see the future of humanity in de-globalization as the idea of defending not only territorial, air and water sovereignty, but also digital independence (Prodanov, 2017). Prodanov notes a new trend – the phenomenon of “the wall”, both real and virtual. The researcher cites the example of China, where the Google search engine is banned as the United States are supposed to influence Chinese society by waging an information war (Prodanov, 2017, p. 122). However, Western countries are also building walls, from the inner ones that protect rich neighbourhoods, to the walls between states: between the United States and Mexico. There is a view denying the possibility of global peace on the grounds that the interaction of cultures “is an intense dialogue-dispute of meanings” (Shemyakin, 2017, p. 433). The existence of a single meaning for all nations means the denial of the ontological reality of the diversity of the human world. An attempt to impose the meanings of one culture of a civilizational scale, that is dominant at other levels of existence, on all others will lead to the degradation and ultimate destruction of humanity.

A number of researchers conclude that it is necessary to form a "global civilization" on the basis of common civilizational principles acceptable to all systems (Antonov, 2019; Chumakov & Stychinskiy, 2018; Makhamatov & Makhamatov, 2020).

The issue of the interaction between the East and the West requires looking at the objective reasons for the confrontation between the values of those civilizations. In our opinion, the answer to this global question can be provided by using various methodological approaches that will not contradict each other but will make the study versatile, more comprehensive.

Problem Statement

  • What constitutes the opposition between the values of the East and the West?
  • What conditions and factors have influenced the formation of traditional values of the East and the West?
  • Can values be formed that will be interiorized by both the Eastern and the Western societies, to what extent is it possible to change the traditional values of the Eastern and the Western societies?

Research Questions

The subject of research is the nature of the value foundations of the civilizations of the East and the West defining their interaction.

Purpose of the Study

The study is aimed at identifying the basis of the value systems of the Western and the Eastern civilizations through the archetypes of the collective unconscious formed by the adaptation of a community of people to their living conditions.

To achieve this goal, the following tasks are being solved:

  • to analyse the specific nature and climate conditions that have affected the principles of work, human relations, interaction between society and government;
  • to reveal the peculiarities of consolidating the values formed at the level of ideals through confessional legitimization.

Research Methods

As methodological approaches, the study uses the following philosophically established approaches:

  • the systemic approach that allows analysis of the value systems of the Western and the Eastern civilizations as integrities where a change in some elements brings about a change in the other ones;
  • the principle of the unity of history and logic, aimed at the exploration of values from the moment of their inception;
  • ascent from the abstract to the concrete aimed at revealing the whole – the traditional values of civilizations – through the analysis of various aspects of the interaction of the community of people with nature and with each other in the process of adaptation to the environment.

Additionally, the study also uses concepts that have not found wide application in the analysis of values:

  • the concept of collective unconscious archetypes, which made it possible to explain the mechanism for preserving and reproducing traditional values (Jung, 1997);
  • the law of the spiral fractality of system time (Subetto, 2017), according to which the system of values characteristic of a given ethnic group are reproduced both at the rational and the irrational levels.


The collective unconscious archetypes are the basis of traditional values

Archetypes are the entities that organize the process of an individual’s being involved in all the variety of complex interactions with their natural-social environment.

There are as many archetypes as there are typical life situations. Endless repetition has engraved this experience on our mental constitution – not in the form of content-filled images, but above all as that merely represent the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation corresponding to a given archetype is encountered, this archetype is activated, a force appears, which, like an instinctual attraction, paves its way against all reason and will... (Jung, 1997, pp. 77-78)

The dual nature of values

The problem of values is linked to one of the fundamental metaphysical questions, the search for meaningful principles of human existence.

Values have a dual nature, as we consider in (Kramarenko & Davidson 2019): they simultaneously exist both in the subject’s consciousness and outside of it. The basis of the nature of values ​​is a supraindividual phenomenon, the meaning, since initially values ​​are formed not in an individual subject, but in a community of subjects. It is the community that develops the principles of interaction of subjects within itself so that it could function. The uniqueness of values ​​is determined by the characteristics of nature, the space to which the community adapts, and its historical experience.

Determinants of the traditional values of the West and the East

The value system of a society begins to take shape in the course of labour activity. Interacting with nature in the process of labour, man must take into account the peculiarities of natural conditions, and the technologies used must comply with the laws of nature. Since the goals of economic activity and its results are determined by society, then thanks to its preferences a technology is chosen, and the choice of technology thus reflects the deep unconscious preferences of the society, or, more specifically, its values. Kulpin (2011) analyses wheat grain growing and wet rice growing technologies and shows how these technologies have benefited certain social values. In order to get a harvest, a farmer in the West had to solve many problems autonomously, independently of the society and government. This included setting the time for ploughing and harvesting, struggle against soil depletion, increasing soil fertility as well as improving agricultural technology. At the same time, the management of the economy did not require a major coordinated effort. As a result, the following values are formed: individual worth, freedom (of activity), self-worth labour, private property, law (legal system), equivalent (the possibility of selling a product, i.e. the market), and development.

The technology of wet rice growing practiced in the East is more effective than the technology of wheat cultivation: its degree of dependence on the environment is lower, and there is little environmental opposition. There is no soil erosion in rice fields, and there is no need for soil fertilizer, since river water, leaving layers of silt, is a natural fertilizer, plus growing algae are food for fish. There is a need for other things: painstaking, highly skilled labour to grow the seedlings and replant them into the field, strict organization and hierarchy to build and maintain irrigation systems.

The results of irrigation farming activities are visible in 60–100 years, after 3–5 generations change. Production activities are prolonged over time, which allows observing them from the outside and correcting current errors without severe consequences. Production activities are broken up into many operations that do not change and are passed on to the next generations. In such conditions, individual initiative remains unwanted, but well-organized work is required. So, people need stability, peace. Peace inside man, confidence in the future. Peace with other nations is equally needed. Stability, peace and order can be ensured by the State. Hence its leading role in the value system of the East. At the same time, the value of collectivism is actualized, i.e. the priority of the collective over the individual.

The method of mastering reality

The rational mind of the Western man perceives the world as primordial Chaos. Without order and causality, the rational mind cannot explain the world. (Grigorieva, 1992). Grigorieva analyses the following archetypes of the Greek mind: ‘arche’, the pursuit of power as a necessity for organizing order in the initially imperfect world; ‘axiomatics’, the need for a priori ideas that are beyond doubt; ‘analytics’, focus on mental dismemberment of the unordered world in order to reorganize it (Grigorieva, 1992). The will to power, ‘arche’, which gave birth to the paradigm of “struggle”, has exhausted itself; in the XX century it led the West and the whole world to global problems that humanity cannot yet resolve.

The Eastern mind is unaware of the idea of Chaos; for it, the world appears in its original order. The Eastern attitude is based on the principle of "non-action". "Non-action" is contemplation, conscious abandoning of the ambition to change the world. The order in the world is established not by man, but by the freedom and self-organization of the Universe. A person should focus on their physical and moral self-improvement, only in this way can they have an impact on the nature and the society.

Confessional legitimization of values

In all societies, the type of economic spirit – the vision of the meaning, goals and methods of economic management once they are formed – is consolidated by religiously sanctioned values. For the West, these are Christian confessions: Catholicism and then Protestantism. They do not deny the intrinsic motivation of labour, but they attach crucial importance to external factors: the objective utility of a profession to the society, and profitability. Weber identified the main features of the Protestant entrepreneur – determination, hard work, asceticism, honesty – ensuring customer and staff loyalty necessary when doing business in a new way, qualities that are incompatible with laid-back life and enjoying oneself (Weber, 2016). Relying on the principle of individualism, Protestantism has canonized the following values aimed at a person’s fulfilment in economic activities: personal success, pursuit of wealth, entrepreneurship, efficiency, striving for individual prominence. As a result of the spread of Protestantism, the values that guide a person towards achieving success in economic activity have become canonized in the ideology of the Western society. The foundation of this ideal is the principle of individualism.

The teachings of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, which are common in the East, guide a person towards other ideals. Without going into scientific discussions about the difference between these teachings and the possibility of their being attributed to religion (the Eastern and the Western understandings of religion differ, more precisely, in the East there is no concept of religion in the Western sense) (Torchinov, 1998), we can point out the main features of the attitude of the Eastern person highlighted by these teachings and transmitted from generation to generation. The religions-teachings of the East – Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism – are, first of all, the ways of human self-improvement, and through them, the improvement of the surrounding world. As noted by Burinova et al. (2019) the idea of the social doctrine of Buddhism is that “success can be achieved by strict observance of moral precepts” (p. 532). The main value of existence lies not in implementing pragmatic goals, but in the search for the highest ideal, the acquisition of a transcendent revelation. Hence the focus on the spiritual. The religions-teachings of the East are also the supreme regulator of all relations in the society: political, economic, and social, based above all on morality.


The most important values for the Western society and human beings – individualism, human dignity, wealth and personal success, activism, perseverance in achieving the goal, leadership, focus on the partner and the consumer, innovation, preference for material relations, the primacy of the ideals of the free individual – determined the extraverted orientation of the psyche of the Western person (aggregate rather than individual). Extraversion is manifested in the West's desire to spread its values throughout the planet, to subjugate all and everything. Introversion fosters the endeavour to adapt to change. The East borrows technology from the West and adapts it to its traditional values, which makes it possible to achieve economic growth. China selects the most effective ideas, projects, and technologies available on the global market today and adapts them to its Chinese specifics. Previously, Beijing used the experience of Marxism, now they are considering the American approach to the organization of power created by the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Aware of the need for development and recovery from the crisis, the West turns to the spiritual practices of the East. However, they are used as techniques, without understanding their spiritual component. The traditional values of the West and the East are constants that prevent humanity from becoming a homogeneous entity. The diversity of traditional cultures does not hold back progress provides for the survival and further development of humanity. Homogeneity (to which globalization practiced today is leading) is actually a blind alley, because, as is well known, development, evolution is possible only if it is subject to diversity as diversity makes it possible to search for different resources in a particular development loop, and what seems most promising today may not be so in the new phase. The existing cultures are now forced to respond to the challenges of globalization by adapting to them through self-development. Today, we live in a stream of change, not even bifurcations, but polyfurcations (Neklessa, 2017), we imagine the transit as the upgrade: movement along an agreed route from point A to a certain final point B. In other words, we are waiting for the resulting stability, that can be seen in practice as static. The spatial organization as the dominant force of social gravity is replaced by the movement as a reflection of the dynamic essence of the new non-equilibrium order. Thus, the question of the dialogue of cultures (not the imposition of some universal culture on everyone) will not lose its relevance.


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Davidson, E., & Kramarenko, R. (2021). East – West. The Nature Of Value Opposition. In O. Kolmakova, O. Boginskaya, & S. Grichin (Eds.), Language and Technology in the Interdisciplinary Paradigm, vol 118. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 238-245). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.12.30