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J. Babb

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J. Babb

This chapter constitutes a systematic attempt at putting forward a methodology for the comparative study of the world history of political thought. It identifies existing problems and proposes innovative solutions. The notion of pursuing the “differences in similarities” deals with the tendency to fail to distinguish superficial similarities from important points of comparison. The concept of “unresolved dialectic” enables two distinct ideas to be compared without resorting to one side or the other in the false dichotomy between universalism and relativism. The “principle of charity” is transformed from a rhetorical device to a methodological tool. Linguistic issues are confronted in a much more concrete way than in previous studies. It also makes important contributions regarding case selection and other issues of validity in interpretation.