Kurzbeschreibung: Hajime, Parallel Developments. A comparative History of ideas. 

Nakamura Hajime (1912-1999), japanischer Indologe und Philosoph, legte 1975 sein Buch Parallel Developments. A comparative History of ideas in englischer Sprache vor. Nakamura war einer der wenigen Gelehrten seiner Zeit, die nicht nur Sanskrit, Chinesisch und Japanisch beherrschten, sondern auch Zugang zu europäischen Sprachen besaß. Sein Zugang zu einer globalen Ideengeschichte ist vergleichend und darauf gerichtet, die Ähnlichkeiten und Differenzen in parallelen Entwicklungsgeschichten des Denkens anhand von Sachfragen zu thematisieren. Es stehen also nicht Personen, wie bei Jaspers, sondern Sachthemen im Zentrum der Aufmerksamkeit.

„We are living in the age when things should be viewed and discussed on a global scale. No event is isolated from other events. We are in need of a kind of global history of ideas in which the developments of ideas should be viewed in the global scope, and yet we are afraid that no work to the effect has been brought about. Of course, there have been published a number of authoritative works, such as History of Philosophy Eastern and Western or History of World Religions and so on. But in these works separate courses of development of ideas in various cultural areas were set forth in different chapters by different scholars from different angles, and the final outcomes seem too disparate, providing us with no conformity in the purpose and the style.

I thought that in order to keep conformity, developments of ideas in various cultural areas should be viewed by a single author and then the details should be corrected by other scholars specialising in various aspects of human intellect or in different traditions.

To this end I have toiled presumptuously to write a comparative history of ideas covering various traditions in global scope. In launching this project I tried to avoid elaborate theorising and allow the data to speak for themselves, as a glance at the following pages will show. Some theoretical considerations are, of course, unavoidable but whatever theories emerge in this work do not wander fat: from the problems that emerge from the data of intellectual history.

I have attempted to describe and assess certain key problems in the history of ideas, both East and West. The material has been patiently collected; it was 'there, and it seemed a pity not to put it into some kind of order and present it to a public that might, after all, find something of value hidden within these pages.

This work does not necessarily cover all important religions and philosophical systems. It covers only those features or problems of thought which are common to East and West through the end of the nineteenth century. Synchronical considerations are chiefly presented in the main text, while diachronical similarities between thinkers of different ages are mentioned mostly in the footnotes.” (Nakamura, Hajime: Parallel Developments. A comparative History of ideas. Hg. v. Ronald Burr. With a preface by Charles Morris. Tōkyō 1975, S. V.)

„This work represents an attempt to isolate, describe and analyse certain key philosophical problems that have appeared historically in almost parallel development within different cultural areas, East and West. The terms ‘religion’ and ‘philosophy’ will be used in this work in the broadest possible sense. In the West the two terms have been fairly sharply distinguished from each other, white in Eastern traditions the dividing line is often difficult to discern. If we insist on being too strict in our definitions, we fail to catch many common problems. It is possible that an idea or attitude held by a Western philosopher finds its counterpart not in an Eastern philosopher but in all Eastern religious thinker and vice versa. For example, the virtue of tolerance was stressed in the West more by enlightened philosophers than traditional religionists, whereas in Japan and China it was emphasized more by traditional religionists than by modern philosophers. Thus, if we limit our scope to only one of the two, either religion or philosophy, we are apt to miss some interesting common features. Although this work is chiefly focused on ‘philosophical thought,’ we shall occasionally deal with symbols and practices which are inseparable from it.” (Ebd., S. 3.)

Nakamuras Entwurf ist der erste systematisch an Sachfragen orientierte und philologisch informierte Versuch, die Denkgeschichte zwischen Asien und Europa zu sondieren. Sein Buch wirft wichtige Fragen für die Darstellungsform einer global orientierten Philosophiegeschichtsschreibung auf, die auch heute erneut durchdacht werden müssen.

(Auszug aus: Elberfeld, Rolf: Philosophiegeschichtsschreibung in globaler Perspektive. Felix Meiner Verlag: Hamburg 2017, S. 292–94.)