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Cosmopolitanisms in Enlightenment Europe and Beyond


Edited By Mónica García-Salmones and Pamela Slotte

This volume offers critical, historical and theoretical perspectives on cosmopolitanism, paying attention to its implications and manifestations both within and outside Europe. It also explores the links between cosmopolitanism and teleological understandings of Europe: there is an idea of «progress» not far below the surface of the concept, but what does it mean and what is its ultimate aim? Through this analysis, the authors uncover several cosmopolitanisms originating and playing out in different periods of European history, most notably during Antiquity and during the European Enlightenment. The book shows that some of the languages of cosmopolitanism did not originate in or locate themselves exclusively in Europe, but that they nonetheless spread through connections with that continent, most commonly through the colonial encounter. The study contains valuable historical analyses of cosmopolitanism in context, in Europe, Russia, the Ottoman Empire and Africa. The book is based on papers presented at the conference «Revisiting the Imaginations of Europe and the World: Coming to Terms with Teleologies and Assessing Cosmopolitanism», held at the University of Helsinki in 2010.


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PART I THEORISING COSMOPOLITANISMS 21 Cosmopolitanism1 Martti KOSKENNIEMI Cosmopolitanism is a big word. It has especial attraction to academ- ics who like to travel to places and to characterise themselves through words with a pedigree from European antiquity. To think that one in some ways resembles a Stoic sage able to say, “I am a citizen of the world” – an intrinsic aspect of the image of the (European) intellectual. The world is me; I am the world. But this, to borrow another Greek word, is hubris and none the less so for the moral or moralistic radiation of such vocabularies: I am speaking in the name of all. And whoever appointed you to that position? In this paper I would like to examine two environments where that vocabulary is at home. Cosmopolitanism is, first of all, a language of identity. One identifies oneself, or one’s neighbour or perhaps one’s ideal hero as “cosmopolitan”. On the other hand, cosmopolitanism also invokes a project, a vocabulary with which to speak about the world as a whole. It integrates the human universe as a moral or political criterion for thought and action. The cosmopolitan is not neutral but “good”. I want to suggest that in both respects, cosmopolitanism is profoundly ambivalent, however. It opens an admirable, perhaps in some respects even unavoidable, perspective on ourselves and the world. But it may easily end up suicidal or tyrannical: a moral trap or a prologue to op- pression. The cosmopolitan is a hard vocabulary to...

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