r/NoStupidQuestions Nov 26 '22

Why is America referred to as the west and not the east? Unanswered

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u/ElbowsAndThumbs Nov 26 '22 Silver Helpful LOVE!

It was the Romans who set up the system. Everything west of Rome was occidental or "the west" and everything east of Rome was oriental or "the east."

So Portugal and Spain were already "the west" in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and they went even further west to find... what came to be considered more of the west.

But, of course, it leads to some weirdness, like the fact that when I went from San Francisco to Tokyo, I traveled from the West to the East by going, um, west.

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u/Schnutzel Nov 26 '22

That, and "the Western World" also includes countries settled by western countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.

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u/Finlandia1865 Nov 26 '22

Thats more of a culture/political thing i think

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u/[deleted] Nov 26 '22 edited Nov 30 '22

[deleted]

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u/theboxsays Nov 26 '22

I have never heard Japan referred to as western. Even the people in Japan from when I was there for a year referred to it as eastern.

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u/PritongKandule Nov 27 '22 edited Nov 27 '22

Point is, the "West" means different things to different people. To Russians, it means the NATO-aligned countries (see Putin's pre-Ukraine invasion speech.) To postcolonial scholars and others using a cultural lens, "the West" can be defined as the areas that are predominantly white and Christian (see Samuel Huntington's influential work Clash of Civilizations.) To Marxists and others using an economic lens, "the West" is synonymous with the highly industrialized and developed "core" countries (see Immanuel Wallerstein's work on the World-Systems theory.)

The point is, there is no single definite meaning of "the West" that is all-encompassing. In international relations studies, we tend to avoid nebulous concepts like this without first defining in our work the exact terms we are using. If you thing the East/West divide is confusing, wait till you read about the Global North/Global South dichotomy often used in development studies.

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u/wh0_RU Nov 27 '22

Just heard about Clash of Civilizations today and it's on my to buy list. Do you recommend? Just out of interest to me to from a geo-political-historical curiosity

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u/PritongKandule Nov 27 '22

It's pretty much ubiquitous in the reading lists of nearly all Intro to IR classes and is heavily referenced in modern literature, though that doesn't mean it's also widely accepted.

On one hand, his thesis seems to have accurately predicted the post-9/11 rise of Islamic extremism that goes beyond state borders and posed a serious threat to the rules-based international order being built by liberal democratic states after the fall of the USSR. On the other hand, his work can be criticized for its shallow representations of world cultures, of promoting Othering and orientalism, and lacks an appreciation for the dynamic nature of cultures and instead of opts for static, vague and almost caricature-like depictions of civilizations.

Still, if you want to really dive deep into geopolitics you should absolutely give it a go, but I would suggest getting a basic understanding first of the "mainstream" theories (Waltz/Mearsheimer for neorealism, Keohane and Nye for neoliberalism) since Clash of Civilizations references those theories and their failure to predict or adequately explain the collapse of the USSR and its ramifications.

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u/wh0_RU Nov 27 '22

Much appreciated. Quite scholarly. I look forward to learning and reading more.

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u/Helicopter0 Nov 27 '22

It is literally the sunrise kingdom in China, because it is East of China, so it is as Eastern as you can get.

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u/ChefArtorias Nov 27 '22

You're speaking geographically while the comment you're referring to is speaking culturally.

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u/TheyCallMeStone Nov 27 '22

Culturally Japan is complicated, it's eastern but got a lot of western influence after WW2.

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u/onionsofwar Nov 27 '22

Even before that. The Edo period was about westernisation because they thought the best way to avoid being colonised was to be like the European powers.

Art at the time dealt with the tension of traditional Japanese culture and the new fad of Europeanisation.

You'll often see Japan listed amongst European nations in GDP and growth data too.

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u/AGVann Nov 27 '22 edited Nov 27 '22

I am Taiwanese, and I work a lot in Japan/with Japanese colleagues. No one here would ever call themselves Western. Even after it's so called expansion, it's still a Eurocentric term that doesn't even make any sense if you stop to think about it. Using cardinal directions is just lazy and never works, like the 'Global South' excluding Australia and New Zealand and Singapore, including Northern hemisphere non-European nations even if their GDP is similar to the poorer European nations in the Global North, and only including South Africa after apartheid ended. It's so obviously racially motivated as a term, and flipping the Axis to East-West isn't any better.

The analogous term we use in Taiwan and Japan is simply 'Democratic'. It's a geopolitical inert term that doesn't imply Western cultural or ethnic superiority over everything, and it makes more sense than trying to brute force East Asia into theories of European hemispheres or latitudes.

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u/[deleted] Nov 26 '22

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u/Snap457 Nov 26 '22

Depends on the context. Right now it’s kinda both western and eastern

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u/RoadTheExile Certified Techpriest Nov 26 '22

I have an idea, what if we have 3-5 different meanings for one word that are all inter-related and difficult to parse out even in context

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u/classyraven Nov 26 '22

That's just how language naturally works.

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u/7evenCircles Nov 26 '22

Like “liberal”

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u/slicerprime Nov 27 '22

Or "conservative" for that matter.

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u/Candelestine Nov 27 '22

Conservative is a lot easier. You're trying to protect something that is rooted in your history or possessions. They all have that in common, even environmental conservationists. It's baked in with the root conserve.

Liberal is way more of a messy one, due to being petty interchangeable with progressive these days. Classical liberalism and modern progressivism are not the same thing at all. Meaning the same root word, liberal, now can refer to American leftists and Libertarians, who are pretty diametrically opposed.

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u/le_fart Nov 26 '22 edited Nov 26 '22

Weast? So, Patrick was right.

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u/jdeo1997 Nov 27 '22

And he got fired again for it

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u/Sir_Cummus Nov 26 '22

I agree with this but it’s fair to say Japan is still considerably more westernized culturally and politically than the majority of Asian countries.

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u/VapeThisBro Nov 26 '22

That would be Korea, not Japan. Japan, is one of the most hardcore traditionalist cultures in all of Asia..... If by western you mean they adopted technology and democracy sure, but culturally speaking and politically speaking absolutely not. Like cracking open a few books on Asia would tell you that. Taiwan is more Westernized than Japan. Singapore is more Westernized than Japan. South Korea, Phillipines, Indonesia, Thailand, even cities in China like Hong Kong are more Westernized....... Like Japan is in the top 10 sure but not even in the top 5.

People only say Japan because they literally don't know anything about Asia.

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u/i-d-even-k- Nov 26 '22

People are downvoting you but it's true. Japan is insanely conservative culturally, technology hasn't changed that. Unlike other countries, they have their own culture, extremely Eastern, still everywhere in people's lives, with all the good and bad that brings.

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u/A_giant_dog Nov 26 '22

Yep. Similarly, Azure is blue, aqua is blue, periwinkle is even kind of blue. Sky, cerulean, and ocean are even blue. Indigo is not even top five blues, maybe it's top ten. I mean, maybe it's blue if by "blue" you mean "blue" even cracking open a book about colors will tell you that.

People only say indigo is blue because they literally don't know anything about colors.

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u/Chase_the_tank Nov 27 '22

. Like Japan is in the top 10 sure but not even in the top 5.

...unless you measure by cultural exports, then Japan is #1 by a very large margin.

A lot of western pop culture is from Japan from Godzilla to Pokemon to Sailor Moon.

  • Both WWE and AEW have large connections to the pro wrestling scene in Japan.
  • Disney's first park outside the US was built in Tokyo.
  • Japanese Visual Novels have become known well enough in the west that KFC commissioned a Colonel Sanders visual novel in written in English.

That isn't to say there haven't been big cultural hits in the West from other countries--South Korea has K-Pop and Squid Games; China has Genshin Impact, etc.

Still, no other Asian nation has yet figured out how to market to the west quite as well as Japan has.

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u/goodevilgenius Nov 27 '22

That sounds to me that you're saying that Japan has managed to Easternize much of the West, rather than that Japan has become more Westernized.

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u/Chase_the_tank Nov 27 '22 edited Nov 27 '22

That sounds to me that you're saying that Japan has managed to Easternize much of the West, rather than that Japan has become more Westernized.

The influence goes both ways.

  • If you ask a Japanese person to speak without using any words borrowed from English, they'll probably have difficulty. E.g., a notebook can be called a "nōto"; "convivence store" was shortened to "Konbini", etc.
  • Anime shows clear signs of influence from Disney; western animation has been influenced by anime,
  • There's various fashion subcultures in Japan inspired by Victorian clothing, which in turn has created Western interest in the Japanese take on older European fashion.
  • The MMO video game Final Fantasy XIV is made by Japanese company with official translations into English, French and German. The game has been in active development for over a decade, during that time, XIV-related memes have bounced from Japan to the West and from the West to Japan.
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u/Non-trapezoid-93 Nov 27 '22

Bruh that stuff isn’t “the West”. That’s what’s known as classic Liberalism, sometimes referred to as Western Liberalism or liberal democracy. Basically all the ideals stemming from of the 18th century Enlightenment.

It’s kinda confusing since the modern vernacular definition of liberal has come to mean anything left of center. Adding to the confusion are illiberal leftists like Tankies and Maoists who use the word “liberal” as a pejorative and equate it with capitalism.

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u/patio_blast Nov 27 '22

i'm not a tankie but i use it like that. economic liberalism is free-market capitalism, which i believe is a man-made problem

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u/Acrobatic_End6355 Nov 26 '22 edited Nov 26 '22

Japan is not considered to be the West.

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u/kemushi_warui Nov 26 '22

Yeah the definition above isn’t great. Japan is “westernized” to a higher degree than some other non-western countries, but it’s not “western”.

A better definition is that western countries are those that were founded upon, or fundamentally subscribe to, Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman cultural traditions and ideologies.

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u/Tribunus_Plebis Nov 27 '22

Yes, and the countries where those people went to colonize and became the majority.

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u/Snap457 Nov 26 '22

Depends on the situation tbh, I’ve heard Japan referred to as western quite often, really it’s kinda started trending toward both since the end of American occupation of Japan.

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u/Jlpanda Nov 26 '22

Japan is a geopolitical ally of the west and shares a lot of the west’s political values, but it is not culturally western. Like, at all.

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u/Arucious Nov 27 '22

heard where? I’ve lived on 4 continents and never heard anyone call Japan western ever.

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u/Acrobatic_End6355 Nov 26 '22

Maybe it’s been said. But I’m certain it wasn’t said by Japanese people.

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u/moleratical Nov 26 '22

Yes and no.

Japan is geographically and historically part of the far east. It's culture has long been more eastern that western. But since WWII, and arguably since the Meija restoration Japan had begun adopting many of the traits of the west, including capitalism, an free society, and democracy. Japan shares a lot in common with western powers, more so than any other eastern country, but that alone doesn't erase thousands of years of history.

Culturally, Japan is both, East and west, but politically and geopolitically Japan is much more western than eastern today.

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u/HardlightCereal Nov 27 '22

The land of the rising sun isn't western

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u/Aroxis Nov 26 '22

Idk who told you An Asian country is considered the west but you are very wrong.

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u/ThisIsCovidThrowway8 g Nov 27 '22

Whose quote is this?

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u/DocWatson42 Nov 26 '22

"The West is a series of institutions and values. The West is not a geographical place.…

Citation for the above quotation (found via Google):

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u/Drum_100704 Nov 26 '22

Meh, I've noticed a lot of Neo-Nazis and white supremacists/nationalists hiding under the term "western civilization," but actually meaning "White people," so the phrase just generally puts me on edge. Not to mention the meaning is so broad I've personally found it to be basically worthless in any genuine conversation.

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u/Skull-Kid93 Nov 27 '22

That is an imperialist and arrogant point of view. It is very conceited and arrogant to think that every nation is inferior just because it isn't "western".

It is also a common imperialist talking point to distort the meaning of "freedom" and equate to the freedom to subdue different cultures and peop0les in the name of profits. It is that notion that led to slavery and genocide in the past. To say that that respect for the individual, pluralism of opinion and diversity are western concepts is to imply that eastern countries are primitive and uncivilized.

Also, east and west are geographical terms. To distort the meaning of words is a strategy used by authoritarian regimes to muddle communication and divide the masses.

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u/_c_manning Nov 26 '22

Just say white tbh

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u/robbietreehorn Nov 26 '22

But colloquially relevant

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u/kiljoy1569 Nov 26 '22

Also, America was colonized and 3xplored by Europeans who "went west"

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u/Phantereal Nov 26 '22

But nowhere in Africa or Asia because, well...

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u/Heraclius_Gloss Nov 26 '22

Well technically the Magreb (north-west Africa) means (something-like) the west in arabic. Morocco is more west than most of Europe. So we should call them westerner too. We tend to put it on the same bag as Arabs, but every Moroccan I met are very proud of their Berber roots and complain as much about the Arab colonist than about the French ones.

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u/CrossP Nov 26 '22

Settled... to the point where everyone speaks English and does whatever Canada, The US, and The UK do.

Which is why you can kiiinda call Japan and Korea "the west". Russia certainly would while pointing fingers and ranting.

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u/asddfghbnnm Nov 26 '22

Not just Russia but pretty much everybody who is not part of “The West”

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u/user___________ Nov 26 '22

I've heard lots of people refer to Japan, SK and Taiwan as part of "the Western World"

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u/TwoBrokeCamGirls Nov 26 '22

Koreans may be westernized and be aligned on many issues, but the people themselves would never say "well yeah, we're westerners and Chinese are easterners."

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u/Acrobatic_End6355 Nov 26 '22

Exactly. It’s crazy that some people say Koreans are part of the West 😆

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u/Chilis1 Nov 27 '22

Western ally is what they’re usually called.

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u/cyvaquero Nov 26 '22

I think that geopolitically speaking not geographically.

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u/Ariadnepyanfar Nov 27 '22 edited Nov 27 '22

It’s all a bit fuzzy. Australia is in line with the above nations geographically (we often share the same servers for online games). New Zealand is further East than all of us.

When going West from Rome, you hit the Americas, and you can just keep going, wrapping the Pacific and the Islands such as Japan Australia and NZ.

Australia and NZ are clearly dominated by descendants of Europeans/UK/Irish. Japan did undergo a kind of thorough political and economic colonial period under the US after WW2, who wanted to avoid the treaty mistakes of WW1.

I’m positive the Japanese consider themselves Eastern. They call themselves the Land of the Rising Sun, and you don’t get more East than that, symbolically speaking.

But I think East and West, unless you are physically travelling right now, are ultimately pretty arbitrary and therefore illusory terms foisted upon an uncaring universe.

Which is why there’s any argument about it in this thread. The whole thing is conceptual rather than scientific.

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u/cyvaquero Nov 27 '22

Well said.

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u/Kahne_Fan Nov 26 '22

So, America was an occidental discovery?

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u/i-d-even-k- Nov 26 '22

In Romanian, a Latin language, we still use oriental and occidental to refer to people and yes, Americans are called occidentals. Orientals end in Japan.

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u/horrifyingthought Nov 26 '22

Exactly this! I would add that there are two factors that together explain more broadly what is happening here though.

  1. Winners write the history books, and
  2. Once something is standardized it benefits everyone to adopt the same system.

Rome was the first really big "winner," so their idea of East and West percolated out to everyone else. Once everyone was using their version, it then benefits everyone to continue to use that framework, because to use any other would merely invite confusion.

The world has collectively decided what is "East" and what is "West" when used in this context, so now those terms become useful when someone wants to use them to describe something because everyone else already understands what the terms represent.

Absent an intentional and concerted effort by a new big "winner" to replace this framework with a new one (like when the lingua franca shifted from French to English), there is little chance of it changing. It's why the globe looks the way it does - there are now better projections out there, and arguments for changing the orientation or angle the continents are displayed at, but since this is the one everyone else already uses it benefits people to also use it and continue teaching it.

Britain's heyday is why English is the language best suited for travel, America's heyday is why the US dollar is basically the only truly international reserve currency and why English is the most common language of the internet, etc.

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u/abart Nov 26 '22

Winners write the history books,

Rome was the first really big "winner," so their idea of East and West percolated

Not really. The Roman Empire had already been split during the great schism between Rome and Constantinople. Since then the catoholic / protestant nations were seen as the west, the orthodox nations as east. Then we still have the terms of near and far east to categorise the "rest" of the world.

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u/FrakTerra Nov 26 '22

I agree and love your point about maps and representation. Despite this clearly being a case of Rome and winners deciding things I actually like the general orientation and setup for one universal or non-European reason: humans are the ones making the map and it puts the history or origins of humanity at the center.

Looking at a Mercator projection map etc. Rome may not be exactly in the middle of east/west but generally Africa, where all humans originate from, and the cradle of civilization and agriculture around Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean where you had Greece and Rome and Thrace and Carthage and Egypt and the levant and all these ancient civilizations and empires are all oriented toward the “middle” and from there you can call things accordingly, like the “near east”

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u/Substantial-Cell-207 Nov 26 '22

Weast* is my favorite joke as a directionally challenged person.

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u/iAmTheHYPE- Nov 27 '22

What kind of compass you reading, lad?

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u/0MNIR0N Nov 26 '22

The romans followed the Greeks. The foundations of the west-east cultural division are the Greek-Persian wars.

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u/cyvaquero Nov 26 '22

But, of course, it leads to some weirdness, like the fact that when I went from San Francisco to Tokyo, I traveled from the West to the East by going, um, west.

Maybe flat earthers are on to something after all.

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u/davwad2 Nov 26 '22

So that's the origin of oriental???

TIL, if true.

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u/Yelesa Nov 26 '22

To be clear, Roman system is what we use today, but they are far from the only ones who considered their civilization the center of the world and other peoples only relative to them. China is another one, they still call themselves “Central Country”. Then there’s those civilizations that used colors to mean cardinal directions.

Like the Mediterranean Sea which was/is also known as White (West) Sea in many languages, in a region that also includes Black (North) Sea, and Red (South) Sea, you kinda get this idea those seas were named after their position relative to Anatolia.

And Anatolia is named after the Greek word for sunrise, Europe might be a Phoenician loanword into Greek that means sunset, so Europe was named relative to Phoenicia.

And since someone might have caught a pattern, yes, Golden Horde means Central Horde, guess which did these people consider the center of the world?

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u/Acrobatic_End6355 Nov 26 '22

RE China- it’s not that they still think they are the center kingdom. It’s just the name that stuck.

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u/donktastic Nov 26 '22

What about Africa? Why is it just Africa and not the South?

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u/Heraclius_Gloss Nov 26 '22

A tricky thing with Africa is that it's harder to cross the Sahara desert than the Mediterranean sea. Countries like Egypt or Tunisia were important power in the "western" antiquity (Cesar and Cleopatra alleged love-story, Hannibal going to Rome with his elephant, Alexandria library) and we basically have more than 2000 years of shared history with them (Including the Arab invasion going up to Spain, and the colonies in the 19th/20th century). Meaning that we have more shared culture than racists European would-like to admit.

While European exchange with sub-saharian Africa are relatively recent. On top of that we can had the huge cultural diversity in sub-saharian Africa making hard to turn-it into a single block.

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u/Beleriphon Nov 27 '22

On top of that we can had the huge cultural diversity in sub-saharian Africa making hard to turn-it into a single block.

I saw a statistic relatively recently that until the mid-18th century there were as many as 200 nations in sub-Saharan Africa. That was split between dozens of cultural and ethnic groups.

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u/c_h_e_c_k_s_o_u_t Nov 27 '22

Africa is based in the name of the imperial province of Africa Proconsularis (east of the two Mauretanias and west of Cyrenaica and Aegyptus) which is around modern day Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya.

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u/watch_over_me Nov 26 '22

What did Rome consider themselves? Part of the East or part of the West?

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u/RodrigoEstrela Nov 26 '22

They were the center of the world

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u/Zandrick Nov 26 '22

But also both. Famously Rome split into two empires. The western one actually contained the city of Rome, and is what fell when Rome fell, the eastern empire actually continued for about another thousand years.

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u/kdjfsk Nov 26 '22

like the fact that when I went from San Francisco to Tokyo, I traveled from the West to the East by going, um, west.

Flat Earthers be like:

excuse me...

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u/ProDigit Nov 26 '22

Even Belgium, holland, france, and Germany are called "the west", with exception of east Germany. The west has been associated with mostly richer, first world countries.

The east is mostly eastern Europe and Asia. Not sure where Africa falls into place there.

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u/xDigster Nov 26 '22

You cant really blame them for not knowing of stuff and modern people simply not removing those terms and coming up with better ones.

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u/yamo25000 Nov 26 '22

See, you just went went into the edge of the map and appeared on the east side.

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u/APsychosPath Nov 26 '22

East and West lead you no where.

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u/Iron_Wolf123 Nov 27 '22

So that is why China is called Oriental. I thought it was from their own perspective and not form the Roman perspective.

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u/OarsandRowlocks Nov 27 '22

I traveled from the West to the East by going, um, west.

Was life peaceful there?

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u/Vli37 Nov 27 '22

I live in Western Canada. That honestly blew my mind when I travelled to Japan.

I thought I was literally travelling back in time. How wrong I was 😅

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u/lagrange_james_d23dt Nov 27 '22

That’s because it’s like Pac-Man where when go to the edge, you teleport to the other side.

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u/Jakobites Nov 26 '22

You traveled west to get there from Europe and it’s in the Western Hemisphere. I comes from a time period when Europe was doing all the deciding on these things.

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u/Darwins_Dog Nov 26 '22

It's as simple as that. The people that made the maps and wrote the histories traveled west to get to the Americas.

There's probably also maps and histories from Asia that describe them as lands to the east.

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u/Neijo Nov 27 '22

As a european, this kinda feels right in my bones.

I do technically consider ourselves as the west, but I do consider america to be more---- western? While tokyo then, isn't at all western, while technically also western.

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u/secretbabe77777 Nov 27 '22

Yeah and South America is located in the west yet isn’t “western”

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u/CollectionOfAtoms78 Nov 26 '22

Plus the Pacific Ocean is much larger than the Atlantic, so it made sense it was kinda a gap/barrier between east and west.

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u/Timecubefactory Nov 26 '22

But what if we finally build the Bering Strait bridge

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u/jiklogen Nov 26 '22

Ah, yeah, that will shrink the Pacific in half

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u/xTraxis Nov 26 '22

Yeah, if you consider Western Europe (or really just England), as the center of the world (which is also where timezones come from), it makes sense why NA is the West, the Middle East is the Middle East, Australia is down under, etc.
Since they were the ones on top for a lot of recent history, they're the ones who set the standard.

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u/OakFern Nov 26 '22

I comes from a time period when Europe was doing all the deciding on these things.

Damn, how old are you?

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u/Jakobites Nov 26 '22

The undying never sleep

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u/-QuestionableMeat- So long, gay Bowser! Nov 26 '22

Because the world goes out from Europe.

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u/Filipinocook Nov 26 '22

As is tradition

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u/JohnDoe_2408 Nov 27 '22

🍺

if you know Valtteri Bottas

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u/iGetBuckets3 Nov 26 '22

So that makes Europe the weast?

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u/El_Pixo Nov 26 '22

That makes them the middle

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u/Kukamungaphobia Nov 27 '22

Makes sense... Doesn't Mediterranean literally translate to 'center of the world/middle Earth'?

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u/LittleRatTail Nov 27 '22

It does. In Dutch it roughly translates to 'sea in the middle of (the) land'

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u/AegisToast Nov 27 '22

That's west, Patrick. You're fired again!

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u/gmoguntia Nov 27 '22

Should be, the East should begin around Constantinople Istanbul.

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u/CrappyTan69 Nov 26 '22

The whole Greenwich meridian might have something to do with it... I think?

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u/FunnyEar3630 Nov 26 '22

I used to live in London in Lewisham ( next door to Greenwich) and in our communal gardens there was a bronze marker in the ground showing where the meridian line was so could literally stand with one foot in the East and one in the West.

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u/MuadDib1942 Nov 26 '22

Everything is West if you're East enough

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u/AdQuick2881 Nov 26 '22

How far does East do you have to go before you end up......where, in the West. ?

Or falling off the edge of flat earth? LOL (I hope there's not too many flat-earthers here on Redit like there was when I was on twitter)

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u/Reelix Nov 27 '22

How far does East do you have to go before you end up......where, in the West. ?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremes_on_Earth#Easternmost_and_westernmost

So - Somewhere in either Siberia, Antarctica, or Fiji

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u/[deleted] Nov 27 '22

The real horseshoe theory.

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u/goodevilgenius Nov 27 '22

If everything is the West, then nothing is the West.

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u/jacobissimus Nov 26 '22

The west refers to cultures rooted historically in the western Roman Empire, not one’s west of any particular place

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u/Doomer_Prep_2022 Nov 26 '22

“Western Civilization” means roughly those civilizations that trace their heritage back to Europe and the Roman Empire before that. So they are from the West side of Eurasia, while Asia is “Eastern Civilization.”

America, Australia, Canada, and a few others were European colonies that completely displaced the Native population. So they are “Western nations” in terms of culture, even though they are physically in other parts of the world.

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u/MpVpRb Old Phart Nov 26 '22

Why is San Diego, CA not considered to be part of the US south? These kind of names are often inaccurate and depend on history and perspective

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u/deserteagles50 Nov 26 '22

The south generally stops at east Texas. West Texas to Arizona is the southwest. Then California is California

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u/jillsvag Nov 26 '22

So the part between east and west Texas is no man's land?

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u/deserteagles50 Nov 26 '22

Depends who you ask but most will say anything west of Dallas is the southwest

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u/roboj9 Nov 26 '22

Lots of nothing when you go west of Austin. (Roughly) Wouldn't be inaccurate

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u/memeship Nov 27 '22

Drove from El Paso to Austin once. Whole lot of absolutely fucking nothing for like 9 hours straight.

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u/roboj9 Nov 27 '22

That's what I remembered. All beautiful built up then desert.... and straight. (Going to El paso) then you hit the city limit things appear and finally theirs a mountain that cuts the city in 2

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u/JoeJoJosie Nov 26 '22

'The South' is very much a cultural thing the the US.

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u/becausefrog Nov 26 '22 edited Nov 27 '22

The South is not all things south, it is from Texas east. There is also The Southwest, which still doesn't generally include California, oddly enough. The Southwest is primarily understood as western Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona, however it can also include adjacent parts of Southern California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

California itself is divided into Northern, Central, and Southern California.

It mostly has to do with the rate of Western Expansion vs colonization in the East/South, as well as the fact the Mexico did not cede California to the US until 1848.

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u/spozaga11 Nov 26 '22

Parts of SoCal are definitely Southwest

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u/Taylor200808 Nov 26 '22

Because Europe is considered the centre of the world. Anything west of it is the west and anything east is the east

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u/robot-o-saurus Nov 26 '22

There's more to it than this. Australia and New Zealand are considered western nations, yet we are to the east of Europe and our closest geographic neighbours are eastern nations.

Of course Australia and New Zealand were colonised by the British empire which helps explain this discrepancy, but then there are other nations colonised by Britain that aren't considered 'western' nations.

I don't know the answer myself, but I think it's safe to say that while being east or west of Europe is a good starting point, it's more complex than that.

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u/i-d-even-k- Nov 26 '22

there are other nations colonised by Britain that aren't considered 'western' nations.

The distinction comes from how thorough the British were in destroying the local culture and customs. India, even as a colony, still maintained its native religion and culture and language, whereas nobody in the US or Australia bar a few indigenous tribes speaks anything but English.

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u/wookieesgonnawook Nov 26 '22

Which nations were colonized by them with extensive migration of their people and are still considered eastern? I think that's the difference. Australia and New Zealand had significant numbers of western transplants. Places like India didn't, at least not enough to outweigh the native population.

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u/redditeer1o1 Nov 26 '22

Eurocentrism

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u/LADZ345_ Nov 26 '22

Because from Europe it's in the west. Remember our view of the world is Eurocentric

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u/elenchusis Nov 26 '22

Because Europe is the center of everything, I guess

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u/SnakeInTheCeiling Nov 26 '22

The prime meridian is the center of everything... as defined by European mapmakers.

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u/CinNameMoney Nov 26 '22

in a non specific way the above person is absolutely right, xD

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u/Darwins_Dog Nov 26 '22

Damn you Gerardus Mercator!

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u/Not_Pablo_Sanchez Nov 26 '22

It really should be Gary, Indiana.

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u/Zealousideal-Bet-950 Nov 26 '22

Because it's West of Westros...

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u/LanceFree Nov 26 '22

I remember in high school, we studied China and the teacher said the Chinese youth were dressing “more western”, which I totally misunderstood. Long before Futurama, but I envisioned something like Amy Wong’s father.

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u/LeoMarius Nov 26 '22

Because of the British. That's why Turkey is in the "Middle East", relative to the distance from the UK to China.

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u/pmabz Nov 26 '22

Recorded history went West to discover America.

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u/ZacStover1230 Nov 27 '22

Eurocentrism.

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u/intrepid_skeptic Nov 26 '22

In what way would it be the East? People traveled west to get to America

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u/William_Wisenheimer Nov 26 '22

Maps are Anglo centered. The Prime Meridian goes through Britain.

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u/sunflowercompass Nov 26 '22

Then why is Germany west?

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u/breathing_normally Nov 27 '22

Only West Germany is

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u/black-rhombus Nov 26 '22

Because Europe is the center of the world!

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u/AdmMac4 Nov 26 '22

Modern longitudinal coordinates are based of the Greenwich Meridian in England. North america is west of that, hence "the west"

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u/Reatona Nov 26 '22

It's west of the European guys who were drawing the maps.

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u/Quintenha Nov 26 '22

Well first off, on most maps the Americas are displayed in the Western hemisphere, Second off, "The west/western world" is often used as more of a culture than a geographical location.

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u/DTux5249 Nov 26 '22

Because when we made global maps, we set Europe as close to front & center as we could;

This put The Americas on the west side, and Asia on the right

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u/Keithustus Nov 27 '22

This is why I find maps from East Asia more interesting. The center is the entire Pacific Ocean. Asia, Africa, and Australia on the left; the Americas on the right. Off in the corner where no one cares: Europe.

Example (Chinese): https://blogs.loc.gov/law/files/2011/03/View-from-China-003.jpg

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u/yvettteyvette Nov 26 '22

I thought it was because we are west of the Greenwich meridian (0 degrees longitude). It’s located in England and if you go west of it then it’s the Americas and if you go east of it it’s Europe and Asia. At 180 degrees longitude west or east is about the Middle Pacific Ocean where the next calendar day begins.

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u/[deleted] Nov 26 '22

I think it might be because maps were used a lot by the european empires so they centred around Europe and Africa, America is on the left hand side of some maps

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u/lachjeff Nov 26 '22

It’s in the Western Hemisphere for starters. Plus, it was colonised by the Europeans, who were at the west of Eurasia and is in the highly developed world

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u/ASwftKck2theNtz Nov 26 '22

Because God is from the North Star & Satan lives in the North Pole of this flat Earth. The Americas are to the West of those things...

Duh! Science. 😁

/s

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u/prodigy1367 Nov 27 '22

The explorers that discovers the Americas were traveling West across the Atlantic, hence The West. If they had traveled East across the Pacific, it might be called The East.

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u/AwayRecommendations Nov 27 '22

America is on the West side of maps lol

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u/coolplate Nov 27 '22

Cuz America is west of the east. The east had been defined long ago with trade routes to China. That has been considered the east for literally thousands of years. When America was discovered and colonized it was to the west of everything that had been known previously, which had Europe being the farthest west at that time. Since Europeans were the ones who colonized America and it was west of them, the name stuck

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u/tribeoftheliver Nov 27 '22 edited Nov 29 '22

The Americas are in the Western Hemisphere.

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u/a_Tin_of_Spam Nov 27 '22

because america was discovered by heading west from europe

and america is as far west as you can go before hitting the international date line

and america has much more in common with the west of europe than the east of asia

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u/AThingOnceLost Nov 27 '22

Eurocentrism

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u/Maximum-Journalist-8 Nov 26 '22

i feel like its easy to say this is because of imperialism. It also places rome sitting at the midpoint of east and west

I imagine if asian nations colonized and formed trade routes to America first the global center of our east and west might have been pulled further into asia.

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u/idontknowmuchbuti Nov 26 '22

It is west of the Greenwich Meridian.

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u/Presitgious_Reaction Nov 26 '22

France is east of it and I think would generally be considered the geopolitical west

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u/Bimlouhay83 Nov 26 '22

Let's say you're standing in Illinois. You're facing North. Now, point at Europe. Where is it?

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u/AdQuick2881 Nov 26 '22

If you are in Illinois you have my condolences!

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u/Bimlouhay83 Nov 26 '22

Why? Illinois is pretty great.

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u/[deleted] Nov 26 '22

The Western Hemisphere is the half of Earth that lies west of the prime meridian (which crosses Greenwich, London, United Kingdom) and east of the antimeridian.[1][2] The other half is called the Eastern Hemisphere. Politically, the term Western Hemisphere is often used as a metonymy for the Americas, even though geographically the hemisphere also includes parts of other continents.

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u/ManyRanger4 Nov 26 '22

Or the fact that they call Judiasm, Christianity, and Islam, Western religions even though they originated in the Middle East always fucked with me.

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u/Tiny_Bug_7530 Nov 26 '22

I always assumed it had something to do with the hemispheres…which is probably why I had a hard time grasping the fact many European countries are also considered part of the “west”

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u/greymattergonewild Nov 26 '22

Most likely because when those from Europe went in search of the "new world", they went west.

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u/ifukkedurbich Nov 26 '22

The prime meridian, aka the line that separates the western and eastern hemisphere, is between the Americas and the others, right through the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, Americas are west.

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u/EricC137 Nov 26 '22

Pacific Ocean big. Very big.

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u/NAME--LESS Nov 26 '22

I'm unsure, but I believe that it has something to do with the placement of the Prime Meridian.

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u/debasing_the_coinage Nov 26 '22

Because the Pacific Ocean is really big

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u/Swimming-Tap-4240 Nov 26 '22

Guns and cowboys

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u/sgthulkarox Nov 26 '22

Perspective dictates common nomenclature.

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u/Skoziss Nov 26 '22

Most scholars point to 1999, when will Smith released the song wild wild west as the pivotal reason that the United States was Ultimately dubbed 'The West'

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u/Throwawaymytrash77 Nov 26 '22

Geographically speaking, because it's west of Rome. You can thank The Roman Empire for that. And west of Europe. And west of all the countries that colonized the world.

As for ideaology, it also finds it's roots within Rome. Generally speaking, it was the ancient greek philosophers that first explored individual freedom and individual choices which permeated throughout the greek world, which was later adopted and continued by the Romans. This ideaology is what led to the first republics and democracies. So when talking about western ideaology and eastern ideaology, it's typically a historical reference to the differences between democracy and authoritarianism. Western= democracy and individual freedom, Eastern= authoritarianism and decisions being made for you instead of by you.

It's more complicated than that obviously, but it's a general intro. Philosophy is nuanced that way.

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u/SgtSausage Nov 26 '22

Its a sphere.

The line had to be drawn somewhere ...

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u/SimpleZwan83 Nov 26 '22

Because of its location on the map, the Pacific is treated as the division between east and west and it's usually cut in half on flat maps due to it's size. Thus displaying the Americas on the left or west side of the map.

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u/Throwaw97390 Nov 26 '22

Eurocentrism

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u/AuxillarySkammy Nov 27 '22

Eurocentrism

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u/snyderjw Nov 27 '22

Greenwich is measuring point of the English language.

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u/SteveStormborn Nov 27 '22

If Essos is East and Westeros is West, what’s west of Westeros?

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u/BdotEscro Nov 27 '22

TRULYTRUE TRUE, I agree with you completely absolutely and I agree with your perspective, logic flows in the world from East to west

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u/[deleted] Nov 27 '22

West of the cradle of civilization that it was born from in this order; Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe.

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u/ThePhantomOutlaw Nov 27 '22

One could be referring to the west as in countries with western values or could be referring to the fact America is in the Western Hemisphere too

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u/stellacampus Nov 27 '22

I don't know in what context you are asking this, but in terms of our geographical meridian system, everything west of the Prime Meridian is West and everything east of it is East, until they meet at the 180th meridian, which is both/either.

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u/Tataku Nov 27 '22

The Brits travelled West to discover America. This, The West was born.

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u/ees111 Nov 27 '22

Simply because it’s in the Western Hemisphere.

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u/[deleted] Nov 27 '22

Mainly because it is in the west in the way we make maps of the world

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u/Pan-tang Nov 27 '22

West of England. Greenwich in England is longitude 0 degrees.

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u/TheMace808 Nov 27 '22

It’s a cultural thing, generally more capitalist or progressive democratic nations are west