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Critique of Cosmopolitan Reason

Timing and Spacing the Concept of World Citizenship


Edited By Rebecka Lettevall and Kristian Petrov

Since the Enlightenment, the definition of terms such as humanity, citizenship and rights has fluctuated and these ideas continue to have relevance for contemporary discussions of globalization from a «cosmopolitan» perspective. This volume goes back to the conception of cosmopolitanism in Greek antiquity in order to trace it through history, resulting in an unmasking of its many myths. The concept is reconstructed with reference not only to well-known (and some lesser known) historical thinkers of cosmopolitanism, but also to noted «anti-cosmopolitans».
The first aim of the book is to display historical perspectives on a discourse which has been dominated by ahistorical presumptions. The second is to critically explore alternative paths beyond the Western imagination, redefining the Enlightenment legacy and the centre-periphery dichotomy. Most notably, Eastern Europe and the Arab world are integrated within the analysis of cosmopolitanism. Within a framework of conceptual history ( Begriffsgeschichte), cosmopolitan reason is criticized from the viewpoints of comparative literature, psychoanalysis, phenomenology, postcolonialism and moral philosophy.
The book’s critical approach is an attempt to come to terms with the anachronism, essentialism, ethnocentrism and anthropocentrism that sometimes underlie contemporary theoretical and methodological uses of the term «cosmopolitanism». By adding historical and contextual depth to the problem of cosmopolitanism, a reflexive corrective is presented to enhance ongoing discussions of this topic within as well as outside academia.
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Note on the Cover Image



Star Trails, Oxfordshire © Mary Spicer, 2013.


A star trail is a phenomenon conditioned by diurnal motion, in which an apparent motion of the stars in the sky, due to the rotation of the Earth, has been captured by long-time exposure photography. The image on the cover was taken close to midnight on 9 June 2013 in rural Oxfordshire, and is a single exposure of 40 minutes at ISO 100, focused manually. If the photographer (as here) focuses the North Celestial Pole, indicated by Polaris, the trails appear as concentric circles, reminiscent of rings created on water. As amazing as they are in their own right, they are also suggestive of the unity of time and space, the interdependency between the part and the whole, history’s dialectic between continuity and discontinuity and the hermeneutical movement towards new horizons of understanding. ← ix | 1 →

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