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April 21, 2024

German Edition of Unger-Ikeda Dialogue Published

German edition of the Unger-Ikeda dialogue
Recently published German edition of the Unger-Ikeda dialogue

FREIBURG, Germany: The publisher Verlag Herder has released a German edition of The Humanist Principle: On Compassion and Tolerance, a dialogue between Dr. Felix Unger, an Austrian pioneer of cardiovascular medicine and honorary president of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) in Vienna, and Daisaku Ikeda (1928–2023).

EASA is an association committed to promoting scientific and societal progress and comprises leading scientists and professionals from various fields dedicated to innovative research, interdisciplinary and transnational collaboration and the exchange and dissemination of knowledge. In March 1997, Mr. Ikeda was named an honorary member of EASA, the first Japanese recipient of such honor from the Academy.

Dr. and Mrs. Ulrich Unger with Mr. and Mrs. Daisaku Ikeda(Hachioji, Tokyo, July 1997)
The Ungers and the Ikedas engaging in a friendly discussion (Hachioji, Tokyo, July 1997)

The dialogue between Dr. Unger and Mr. Ikeda began in Tokyo in July 1997 and continued through subsequent meetings in 2000 and 2001, followed by a series of written correspondences. In their dialogue, the authors exchange insights on how to establish a society of coexistence in which globalization and scientific technology continue to advance. They discuss the role of religion and science, touching on topics such as interfaith dialogue, the spirit of tolerance, global environmental issues, health, medicine and ethics.

On the topic of religion and tolerance, Mr. Ikeda states:

“The virtue of tolerance is a vital issue of concern in this time of globalization and new encounters. . . . Getting to know our neighbors in the global village, we experience and are moved by diverse cultures and customs. Though very great differences are sometimes hard to bear, the world is coming closer and closer together with the result that we have no choice but to get along with our new neighbors. In these circumstances, tolerance is essential.”

In response to Mr. Ikeda, Dr. Unger remarks on the rich complexities and connotations contained in the word “tolerance,” and says:

“Tolerance is very active and very personal. It arises from discussions with others and presupposes a civilized viewpoint. It is the process in which I go out of myself to speak with others. . . . When one opinion comes into real exchange with another, a third new opinion emerges, providing a starting point for further discussions. . . .  In any case, tolerance is a spiritual service to another. It is an active form of coexistence in which I identify with and feel responsible for my fellows. Encounters with others lead to the greatest discoveries and maximum contributions to humanity.”

The completion of the German version will undoubtedly serve as a guide for more people to explore pathways to a hopeful future.

 [Adapted from an article in the April 23, 2024, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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