Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the German Enlightenment:‎ The Anthropological Foundations of Immanuel Kant’s Political Thought
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Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the German Enlightenment:‎ The Anthropological Foundations of Immanuel Kant’s Political Thought


The overarching claim I advance here is that to understand Kant’s political thought, it is ‎necessary to understand his philosophical anthropology. This I demonstrate by examining Kant’s ‎conceptual relationship between nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Besides the introduction and ‎conclusion, the dissertation follows a fourfold topical division into philosophical anthropology, ‎philosophy of history, political philosophy, and ethics.‎The dissertation begins with the intellectual and historical context in which Kant developed ‎his novel ‘pragmatic’ approach to anthropology and the unique features he identified in the ‎human species. These include three rational predispositions: the technical, the pragmatic, and the ‎moral, which, through social interaction and history, respectively develop into culture, ‎civilization, and morality. Crucial is Kant’s positing of a moral teleological end for the human ‎species (Bestimmung). The anthropological analysis of the human species leads Kant to the ‎conclusion that cosmopolitanism is intrinsic to its character, and that its Bestimmung lies in a ‎‎‘cosmopolitically united’ system—a universal moral community. For it to fulfill its cosmopolitan ‎Bestimmung, it is incumbent upon humanity to first eliminate the chief impediment to its ‎progress—namely, the perpetual state of war between states. This it will achieve primarily ‎through rational political institutions; states ought to first reform themselves into republics and ‎then establish a “Federation of nations” (V�lkerbund) as a guarantor of perpetual peace.‎ Here I make an intervention in a long-standing debate within Kant scholarship over the ‎ostensible oscillations he made regarding his preferred form of cosmopolitical government. I ‎claim that Kant’s anthropology demonstrates that the universal moral community can only be ‎constituted under the condition of a singular universal political community—therefore, the ‎V�lkerbund must ultimately coalesce into a “World-republic”. To this end, I further advance the ‎argument that, far from being antithetical to his cosmopolitan vision, nation-states are, in three ‎major ways, conducive to it on Kant’s own terms: since, (1) they prevent global tyranny, (2) their ‎common idioms provide the most solid foundations for republics, which eventually (3) makes ‎them amenable for cosmopolitical unification. The upshot, however, is that although nationalism ‎has a cosmopolitan role to fulfill, cultural diversity has only secondary value for Kant—it is ‎merely a particular means to a universal end. The dissertation concludes with a discussion of the ‎immense amount of time that humanity must traverse for it to fulfill its moral Bestimmung.‎

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