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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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EPILOGUE: The Cosmopolitical and the National. An Uneasy Relationship (Bo STRÅTH)


201 EPILOGUE The Cosmopolitical and the National An Uneasy Relationship Bo STRÅTH 1. The Ambiguities of the Concept and the Failure to Address the Social Question Cosmopolitan is derived from the Greek words cosmos and polis. Cosmos refers to the whole world, yes, indeed, the whole universe, although in practice the reference is to the world as the globe. Polis is the label of a bounded political community, normally a small city state. From there comes the term politics. Since the nineteenth century, the locus of the political is in Europe in particular the nation state. The unification of the unbounded world and the bounded polity means an ambiguous relationship and a crucial question is how the ambiguity has been addressed historically. The ambiguity has been present in the historical discourses on cos- mopolitanism since the eighteenth century. The cosmopolite has been seen as a citizen of the world transcending political territorial borders such as nation states and living in a vaguely discerned world state. The cosmopolite was imagined as standing above or between all bounded polities. At the same time the term had a local demarcation. The unbounded cosmopolity did only make sense in relation to the bounded (national or local) polity. Global went hand in hand with local. In the nineteenth century German debate, for instance, the cosmopol- itan imagination was based on the idea of the nation state. Immanuel Kant’s point that world government was a world federation of states, rather than something that transcended them,...

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