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L'antropologia del cosmopolitismo

The Anthropology of Cosmopolitanism

Anno XXVII, n. 117, aprile-giugno 1992
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

In this essay the author makes a brief review of philosophical history, demonstrating the thesis that, contrary to what is frequently claimed, cosmopolitanism in its purest form appears only in the contemporary era. The first step in his argument consists of a critique of Popper's interpretation of the stoicism of the classical era as a forerunner of cosmopolitanism and the open society as opposed to the tribalism of the ancient city-state. Nor can stoicism – nor for that matter early Christian philosophy – claim to be effectively cosmopolitan or universalist in terms of political theory, first and foremost due to the radical difference which exists between the ancients' conception of the cosmos and that of the moderns. The analysis then moves on to the major figures of the Age of Enlinghtenment – Rousseau, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Condorcet, Lessing and Kant. Once more the conclusion is that they fail to embrace cosmopolitanism proper – transcending, that is, acknowledgement of the jus gentium and the aspiration to perpetual peace. Finally, three contemporary variants of cosmopolitanism are examined: the psychoanalytic version of Julia Kristeva, the neo-naturalism of Michel Serres and the neo-existentialism of Bernard-Henri Lévy. Whereas the first – tantamount to a sort of theory of affectivity – is insufficient, the other two produce results assimilable to those of the philosophers of the absurd, and are incomplete insofar as they fail to grasp the idea of a limited, precisely situated, incarnate human will.