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Intricacies of Patriotism

Towards a Complexity of Patriotic Allegiance

Edited By Maciej Hułas and Stanisław Fel

Intricacies of Patriotism presents a selection of concepts of patria along with their corresponding forms of patriotism. The various contributions represent different backgrounds and draw a picture of patria as a universal value that is indispensible to one’s sense of self-awareness, and the identity of groups. The different understandings of patria in this collection are examples of employing patriotism to advance the identity of the group, or the individuals within it. While eulogists of cosmopolitanism tend to portray patriotism as anachronistic and irreconcilable with the «man-of-the-world-style», the notion of patria seems to be motivated by a deep concern to preserve patriotic feelings in an undistorted fashion, and to preserve them as a value of utmost importance.
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Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism.


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Pauline Kleingeld

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, The Netherlands

Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism

In 1726, the patriotic society of Hamburg issued a commemorative coin. On one side, we see Minerva, the goddess of the liberal arts, in embrace with Amalthea, the goddess of abundance. Above this image we read “Civium felicitati” and below it “PATRIOTA HAMB.[urgiensis]” – that is, the patriot of Hamburg strives to promote the happiness of its citizens. On the other side, we see the face of Socrates and, surprisingly, the word “COSMOPOLITES”1. Why would the patriots of Hamburg choose to celebrate a cosmopolitan? How can cosmopolitanism and patriotism be two sides of one coin?

We find a similar puzzle in Kant’s writings. In the Reflexionen on Anthropology, he speaks of a “national delusion” (Nationalwahn), by which he means the illusion that one’s own nation is inherently superior to others. Kant states that this delusion should be “eradicated” and replaced by “patriotism and cosmopolitism” (XV, Refl. 1353, 591). In the Metaphysics of Morals Vigilantius – lectures Kant probably gave in 1793–94 – he curiously speaks of “world patriotism and local patriotism,” and says that “both are required of the cosmopolitan” (XXVII. 2. 1, 673–4).

Many people assume that cosmopolitanism is incompatible with patriotism. In current debates, patriotism is sometimes used as a synonym for nationalism2, or it is said to be “very close to jingoism”3. Cosmopolitanism, on the other hand, is often equated with rootlessness and...

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