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"Cultural additivity" and how the values and norms of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism co-exist, interact, and influence Vietnamese society: A Bayesian analysis of long-standing folktales, using R and Stan

Quan-Hoang Vuong, Tung Ho, La Phuong (), Van Nhue Dam, Bui Quang Khiem, Nghiem Phu Kien Cuong, Thu-Trang Vuong, Hong Kong Nguyen, Ha Viet Nguyen, Hiep Pham and Nancy K. Napier
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Quan-Hoang Vuong and Viet Ha To Nguyen

No 18-015, Working Papers CEB from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: Every year, the Vietnamese people reportedly burned about 50,000 tons of joss papers, which took the form of not only bank notes, but iPhones, cars, clothes, even housekeepers, in hope of pleasing the dead. The practice was mistakenly attributed to traditional Buddhist teachings but originated in fact from China, which most Vietnamese were not aware of. In other aspects of life, there were many similar examples of Vietnamese so ready and comfortable with adding new norms, values, and beliefs, even contradictory ones, to their culture. This phenomenon, dubbed "cultural additivity", prompted us to study the co-existence, interaction, and influences among core values and norms of the Three Teachings –Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism–as shown through Vietnamese folktales. By applying Bayesian logistic regression, we evaluated the possibility of whether the key message of a story was dominated by a religion (dependent variables), as affected by the appearance of values and anti-values pertaining to the Three Teachings in the story (independent variables). Our main findings included the existence of the cultural additivity of Confucian and Taoist values. More specifically, empirical results showed that the interaction or addition of the values of Taoism and Confucianism in folktales together helped predict whether the key message of a story was about Confucianism, β{VT ⋅ VC} = 0.86. Meanwhile, there was no such statistical tendency for Buddhism. The results lead to a number of important implications. First, this showed the dominance of Confucianism because the fact that Confucian and Taoist values appeared together in a story led to the story’s key message dominated by Confucianism. Thus, it presented the evidence of Confucian dominance and against liberal interpretations of the concept of the Common Roots of Three Religions ("tam giáo đồng nguyên") as religious unification or unicity. Second, the concept of "cultural additivity" could help explain many interesting socio-cultural phenomena, namely the absence of religious intolerance and extremism in the Vietnamese society, outrageous cases of sophistry in education, the low productivity in creative endeavors like science and technology, the misleading branding strategy in business. We are aware that our results are only preliminary and more studies, both theoretical and empirical, must be carried out to give a full account of the explanatory reach of "cultural additivity".

Keywords: Confucianism; Buddhism; Taoism; Three Religions; cultural additivity; Vietnamese culture; folktales; social norms; values; beliefs; ideals (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A13 M14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36 p.
Date: 2018-03-14
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cul and nep-sea
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