Towards a Complexity of Patriotic Allegiance
Edited By Maciej Hułas and Stanisław Fel
Kant’s Cosmopolitan Patriotism.
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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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