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Revisiting Kant and Fichte’s Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism

Emiliano Acosta

Resumen

In this paper, I present some preliminary considerations on relevant, but, as far as I know, still unexplored, aspects of the Kantian and Fichtean conceptions of cosmopolitanism. These aspects can be grouped in three thematic axes: the ontologico-political (not legal) side of the cosmopolitan conceptions of both philosophers, the existence of a diversity of forms of cosmopolitanism in Fichte’s philosophy, and the idea and role of nature, economy and history in Kant and Fichte’s cosmopolitanism.

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  • 1 I cited Kant’s writings from Kant, I., Gesammelte Schriften (AA), ed. Vol. 1-22 Preussische Akademi (...)

1In this paper, I present some preliminary considerations on relevant, but, as far as I know, still unexplored, aspects of the Kantian and Fichtean conceptions of cosmopolitanism. These aspects can be grouped in three thematic axes: the ontologico-political (not legal) side of the cosmopolitan conceptions of both philosophers, the existence of a diversity of forms of cosmopolitanism in Fichte’s philosophy, and the idea and role of nature, economy and history in Kant and Fichte’s cosmopolitanism.1

  • 2 The most representative studies are Kleingeld, P., Kant and Cosmopolitanism. The Philosophical Idea (...)
  • 3 IaG, AA 08:18 and 30. See also the papers on this Kantian writing collected in Oksenberg Rorty, A. (...)

2Recent Kant-studies have shown that contrary to the traditional approach exclusively focused on Kant’s theory of international order (legal cosmopolitanism), Kant also offers an economic, religious, epistemological and moral account on cosmopolitanism.2 Nevertheless, these new interpretations leave the Kantian ontologico-political version of cosmopolitanism aside. The reason of this systematic omission seems to be the little attention these studies have given to what I consider the conceptual core of Kant’s article of 1784 Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim, namely Kant’s postulate of an ontological continuity from nature to reason aiming at legitimating a political praxis of cultural, political and moral progress and emancipation.3

  • 4 See for instance James, D., Fichte's Republic: Idealism, History and Nationalism, Cambridge: Cambri (...)
  • 5 Zöller, G. & James, D. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Fichte, Cambridge: Cambridge University P (...)

3Concerning Fichte’s theory of cosmopolitanism, research has always been focused on the tensions between nationalism and/or patriotism and cosmopolitanism in Fichte’s political and legal philosophy, leaving the question aside whether Fichte, like Kant, does not conceive of cosmopolitanism in very different perspectives.4 The recent published Cambridge Companion to Fichte shows that Fichte’s cosmopolitanism has been displaced in the last years from the set of main problems concerning the study of the work of this philosopher.5

4The paper is structured as follows. I will begin with an analysis of Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism and show that Cavallar’s reconstruction of this form of cosmopolitanism needs to be improved. This will lead me to the explanation of the ontologico-political side of the Kantian cosmopolitanism. I will mainly focus on the mentioned article Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan aim (from now on IaG). I will argue that at the background of Kant’s cosmopolitanism there is a grand narrative about nature, historicity and destination (Bestimmung) of the individuals and Humanity. This grand narrative, which can be understood as the ideological moment in Kant’s cosmopolitanism, consists, on the one hand, of the postulate of the existence of a cosmopolitan germ and a cosmopolitan natural disposition in man, on the other of the postulate of the existence of a plan of nature guiding the history of progress of Humanity. In the second part of the present paper, I will examine the way Fichte deals with the ontological and political question of cosmopolitanism in his Philosophy of Right (1796/97), The Closed Commercial State (1800) and his Letters to Konstant (1802/03). I will begin with the question whether and to what extent we could talk about different forms of cosmopolitanism in Fichte’s philosophy and show to what extent this is possible. I will argue that Fichte considers cosmopolitanism an issue that exceeds the domain of philosophy of right, since his idea of cosmopolitanism encompasses a political economy, a philosophy of education and culture as well as a political ontology of the cosmopolitan, since she is essentially or stricto sensu the one who has no or has lost his/her citizenship. In the third section I will advance some conclusions that can serve for outlining the tasks a new research on Kant and Fichte’s cosmopolitanisms should undertake.

On Kant’s cosmopolitanisms

  • 6 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosophy”, in: Ethics and Global Policy 5/2 (2012), pp. (...)
  • 7 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosophy”, pp. 99-100 and 113-114, fn. 19.
  • 8 Cavallar, G., Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism, p. 28.

5No doubt, Kleingeld and Cavallar’s studies on Kant’s cosmopolitanism represent the most important recent contribution to the Kant-scholarship on this topic. Kleingeld’s historiographic research on Kant’s Cosmopolitanism has shown that besides the well-known Kantian legal cosmopolitanism, Kant has also developed a religious, moral, cultural and economic notion of cosmopolitanism. One of the most important contributions of Cavallar to Kleingeld’s research has been the identification of a Kantian epistemological cosmopolitanism.6 Nevertheless, on the one hand in his article of 2012 Cavallar only mentions the existence of this form of cosmopolitanism and gives a brief description of it, leaving it aside from the scope of his paper7 and, on the other, in his book, published in 2015, Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism he does not discuss the epistemological cosmopolitanism one can find in Kant’s IaG. Instead, Cavallar’s analysis of Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism refers to other Kantian writings such as Anthropology, the first and third critiques, Kant’s lectures on the philosophical doctrine of religion and the Metaphysics of Morals. Kant’s article from 1784 is certainly mentioned, but a few pages below and merely as an illustration of the concept Cavallar has already reconstructed out of the above-mentioned writings.8 Contrary to Cavallar’s reading I do not consider the epistemological cosmopolitanism of Kant’s article of 1784 as just an example of what Kant has said in other writings.

  • 9 Ib.pp. 23-27 and 86-87.
  • 10 Ib. p. 5.
  • 11 Reflexionen zur Anthropologie, AA 15: 518.
  • 12 Ib. p. 24.
  • 13 Ib. p. 5.
  • 14 Ib. p. 25-26.
  • 15 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosohy”, pp. 102.
  • 16 IaG 08:17-18 and 29-30. See also Raulet, G. “La téléologie critique et ses paradigmes scientifiques (...)

6Cavallar’s omission of the particularity of the epistemological cosmopolitanism in IaG results to my view in a misreading of Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism, since it gives the impression that, on the one hand, Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism is a kind of neutral or objective point of view or skeptical moment that makes possible inter-cultural dialogue, self-criticism9 and global thinking in terms of openness towards others.10 Contrary to Kant’s idea that what a cosmopolitan distinguishes from ordinary citizens is his or her active engagement with the world, namely that a real cosmopolitan is not a mere “spectator of world events” (Weltsbechauer)11, Cavallar affirms that epistemological cosmopolitans are according to Kant “impartial spectators”.12 Furthermore, Cavallar’s consideration of Kant’s cosmopolitan perspective as an unbiased way of thinking that permits individuals to overcome their own ethnocentrism produces the illusion that Kant is an ally of contemporary humanitarian cosmopolitan theories like Ulrich Beck’s view on cosmopolitanism.13 On the other hand, this misreading suggests the existence of a kind of natural transit between epistemological and moral cosmopolitanism in Kant’s philosophy.14 This systematic transit becomes impossible, as Cavallar himself once recognized,15 if we introduce in the notion of epistemological cosmopolitanism the particular no-moral and anti-theological character of the version in IaG. The absence of a moral principle leading his philosophy of history and the strong anti-theological and secularized character of the notion of cosmopolitanism in the article of 178416 makes impossible the compatibility of Kant’s moral and religious cosmopolitanism with his cosmopolitanism based on his philosophy of history.

  • 17 IaG, AA 08: 17 and 28.
  • 18 See for instance KrV B 490-504 and GA I/3, 75-90 (Über Belebung und Erhöhung des reinen Interesse f (...)

7Although Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism consists indeed of overcoming the egoist or ethnocentric perspective, this overcoming does not lead according to Kant to a neutral point of view, but to one engaged with a particular view of the nature, the history and the destination of human beings. By elevating herself upon the particularity of the own historical and cultural situation, the Kantian cosmopolitan does not obtain a decontaminated perspective on human affairs, but a new view on human history, human nature and human destination. The cosmopolitan is according to the IaG the one who has grasped the real goal of Humanity, the real mechanism of nature and history and, accordingly, can distinguish between a politics for and a one against the progress of Humanity.17 Kant is convinced, and Fichte would agree, that above particular interests there is no uninterested objectivity, but the interest of reason with its own political and moral agenda.18

  • 19 IaG, AA 08:30.
  • 20 IaG, AA 08:28. See also WA, AA 08:39.

8The particularity and/or partiality of Kant’s point of view can be noticed not only in his acknowledgment of the epistemologically fragile status of his own proposal for philosophically interpreting history, which is nothing more than “a thought of what a philosophical head […] could try from a different point of view”19, but also in the fact that his discourse does not attempt at representing the totality of human beings. His discourse in the name of Humanity is articulated in open confrontation against conservative, i.e. anti-Enlightenment, discourses about the human nature, its history and destination.20

  • 21 Laclau, E., On Populist Reason, London: Verso, 2005, pp. 67-72.
  • 22 ZeF, AA 08:369.
  • 23 IaG, AA 08:20.
  • 24 ZeF, AA 08:367 fn..

9Kant speaks in the name of a Humanity that for constituting itself as totality needs to exclude a part of itself. The opposition “us and them” is not an accidental collateral effect. This opposition is inherent to every totalizing discourse. The totality Kant refers to with his discourse in the name of Humanity cannot be objectively or logically achieved, but only rhetorically. Put in Laclau’s terms: Kant’s cosmopolitan discourse of 1784 is an attempt at creating a new universality in terms of hegemony.21 Concerning epistemological cosmopolitanism, Kant is in his 1784 article neither neutral nor affirms that his cosmopolitan idea is objectively true and universal valid. The same philosophical modesty can be found in his Perpetual Peace, where Kant acknowledges that the advice of jurists is for the political authorities more important than the advice of philosophers and so he rejects Plato’s idea of the philosopher king.22 Cavallar’s interpretation becomes more problematic when we realize that Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism has nothing to do with humanism or humanitarianism nor with inter-cultural dialogue or openness to diversity, since it is based on both a philosophy of history that considers Humanity and not the individual as the real subject of history23 and a notion of culture that could not tolerate contemporary pleas for cultural and religious diversity.24

  • 25 Kleingeld, P. “Kant’s Changing Cosmopolitanism”, in Rorty, A. O. & Schmidt, J. (eds.) Kant's Idea f (...)
  • 26 IaG, AA 08:20-22, 24-26 and 30; ZeF, AA 08:360-368.
  • 27 Anth, AA 09:330-333.

10We can now discuss to what extent Kant’s Idea for a Universal History is relevant for a reconstruction of Kant’s cosmopolitanism. Kleingeld offers a consistent argument for leaving this article aside: in his Towards Perpetual Peace Kant has changed his mind about the definitive form and the coercive power of the federation of nations.25 No doubt this is correct. But Kleingeld did not say anything about the things that have not changed in Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism since 1784, namely that the main ideas of Kant’s philosophy of history in 1784 and 1795/96 are actually the same. In both writings we read that nature is a kind of secularized providence and that the motor of history is the social unsociability of man conceived essentially as a natural process, namely, as a process planed and ordered by nature, unwittingly executed by human beings and striving at the realization of the goals of nature in the human race.26 By the way: the same idea we find at the end of Kant’s Anthropology, published in 1798.27

  • 28 IaG, AA 08: 18, 20-22 and 24.

11The neglected particularity of Kant’s 1784 version of epistemological cosmopolitanism consists of being based on an ontologization of the cosmopolitan point of view. This ontology is essentially political, since it is related to a very specific political program: the establishment of a cosmopolitan legal order by means of making republicanism the universal form of government. Kant’s attempt consists of demonstrating that this political program corresponds to the natural development of human beings. The cosmopolitan, the historiographer who discovers the real dynamics of history, human reason, moral feelings, political institutions are all, like Newton, Kepler and their discoveries, products of nature.28

  • 29 IaG, AA 08:17, 20-21 and 27.
  • 30 IaG, AA 08:17 and 30.
  • 31 ZeF, AA 08:363 and 368.

12Kant’s 1784 cosmopolitanism encompasses the development of a grand narrative about human nature, destination and history aiming at mobilizing people to actively participate in the progress of Humanity. According to Kant, this progress is however a natural progress and, since natural and necessary are within the Kantian universe two sides of same coin, something that soon or later will happen. Why then? Kant’s answer reads as follows: because Nature is wise, she knows what she wants and she knows how she can get it and she has the power and the means (the human creatures) for achieving it.29 But, if this is so, why should we try to convince people to actively take part on something that necessarily and without people’s own consent will become one day a reality? This is the point where Kant sounds a little bit Hegelian and Marxist, since on the one hand the history of human progress has the character of necessity and on the other the future is already written. The cunning of nature we can discover in history, when we observe human actions from a cosmopolitan point of view,30 guarantees that nature will work on the same way in the future. By the way: the guarantee of perpetual peace is, according to Kant, not human rationality nor human freedom, but, as we read in his Perpetual Peace, the wisdom and manipulative power of nature connected of course with social antagonism, which is a means of nature for accomplishing her (not our) last goal.31

  • 32 IaG, AA 08:27.

13So, at this point it is difficult to see why subjectivities should be persuaded and mobilized for consciously working on the progress of the human race and consequently of nature understood as the totality of living species on earth. Kant would agree with this. But the point is that Kant suggests that, as soon as we decipher the internal mechanism and goal of nature, we can accelerate the dynamics of the necessity-structure of history.32

14One of the reasons Kant gives for legitimating his idea of universal history is that his grand narrative can convince people for actively contributing to the progress of humanity and so the tempo of history will be faster and we will sooner bring humanity to her goal. So, it is not the point whether his proposal is objectively true, but whether it can mobilize people. Kant thinks that for this purpose he has to develop a kind of political ontology, namely a description of human nature where the political is an essential part of the human nature. This is why he considers necessary to detach the human being from the idea of metaphysical freedom and transcendence, namely from all that can lead individuals to relativize this life, this earth, and, consequently, make cosmopolitan activism unattractive. So, in IaG he proposes to conceive the human, its history and destination within a framework of secularization and absolute immanence in order to make consistent and desirable his idea of ontologico-political cosmopolitanism.

  • 33 IaG, AA 08:468.

15Kant’s philosophy of history can be seen as an example of Enlightenment secularization of the Christian history of salvation. But Kant thinks that his proposal is even in the context of the Enlightenment original. This is the reason why he thinks he has to explain what Johann Schultz had mentioned in the Gotha Learned Papers, namely that “favorite idea of professor Kant that the final end of humankind is the attainment of the most perfect political constitution” and that Kant “wishes that a philosophical historiographer would undertake to provide us in this respect a history of humanity, and to show how far humanity has approached this final end in different ages, or how far removed it has been from it, and what is still to be done for this attainment.”33

  • 34 IaG AA 08:30.
  • 35 See for instance Mentzel, H., Gründliche Anleitung, billig und recht nach göttlicher Absicht von de (...)
  • 36 AA 15:517.

16I think that Kant’s originality resides in the fact that Kant secularizes the history of salvation without cancelling its teleological character and consequently without abandoning the idea of a plan and a task for humanity nor cancelling the function of providence in this history. But Kant translates providence: we have to say “nature”34; and instead of “divine intention” (“göttliche Absicht”), a term from eighteenth-century German theology for “intentio divina”,35 we have now to say “cosmopolitan intention or aim” (“weltbürgerliche Absicht”). This notion of cosmopolitanism is, to my view, what Kant thinks it has to be explained, since this is the point Schultz did not mention. Furthermore, for Kant the opposition in the cultural struggle for the progress of humanity is not the theological opposition between the children of Heaven and the sons of the Earth, but the secularized antagonism between the last ones and the cosmopolitan, as we read it in his Reflections on the Anthropology.36

  • 37 IaG, AA 08:30.
  • 38 RezHerder, AA 08:52-55.

17In this manuscript, we find Kant’s consideration of cosmopolitanism as a standpoint opposed to the egoist way of being in the world. But Kant considers this perspective as necessarily connected with interest and action as well: the cosmopolitan is, as mentioned above, not a “world-spectator” nor a strange or sojourner in the world, she considers the world as her own place for living. There is thus no another world for the cosmopolitan. As Kant says at the end of IaG: it is all about convincing people to stop looking for the solutions beyond earthly existence.37 Kant notes that the idea of the immortality of the soul is actually an obstacle for Enlightenment conceived as cosmopolitan activism. In this point Kant’s secularization of the history of salvation differs from Herder’s account on it. As Kant notices in his review of Herder’s Ideas for a philosophy of history of the humankind, one of the main problems of Herder’s philosophy of history is the extension and projection of human moral development beyond the limits of this life and this earth.38

18Kant’s epistemological cosmopolitanism is something more than what Cavallar tells us about this concept, since it encompasses a political ontology. The political idea of a cosmopolitan order or of a praxis towards perpetual peace are essentially a result of the historical development of a natural disposition in the human being. In defining the oscillating nature of human beings at the beginning of IaG Kant does not situate individuals between animals guided by instincts and moral free beings, but between the former and the cosmopolitan as the individual who has grasped that the human is a nature creature destined to achieve a specific goal of nature: the establishment of international legal order as the basis for the total development of the potentialities of humankind. Again: this life, this earth, are the limits.

  • 39 IaG AA 08:17-18.

19For creating a horizon of absolute immanence Kant advances an apagogical argument by means of which he, on the one hand, demonstrates that metaphysical freedom cannot be the principle or guiding idea for entering in the historicity of the human being, on the other, Kant postulates a history of humanity as guided by nature as the only consistent way for writing a non-chaotic, teleological, history of human kind.39 In this regard, the philosophical historiographer is a cosmopolitan who, like Newton and Kepler, incarnates a moment of self-reflection and self-knowledge of nature.

  • 40 IaG AA 08:20 and 30. See also WA, AA 08:41.
  • 41 For a more exhaustive analysis of Kant’s cocnept of nature in IaG see my “Racionalização da Naturez (...)

20The cosmopolitan is the incarnation of an idea nature has put as potentiality in the human nature. Kant talks in IaG about a cosmopolitan germ and a cosmopolitan disposition.40 An idea translated in biologist terms. Kant is, nevertheless, not a materialist. We can say that his ontologization of cosmopolitanism naturalizes cosmopolitanism and politics, but we also have to say that the nature of this naturalization is not the nature of the first critique nor the nature of the third one. As already said: nature is providence.41

  • 42 IaG, AA 08:19-20.
  • 43 KpV, AA 05:122-124.

21For nature, we are nothing but an instrument. The real subject of history is the humankind.42 It is quite interesting to pay attention to Kant’s argument in this regard, because it has the same structure of the argument of the second critique for postulating the immortality of soul.43 In both cases, something impossible to be accomplished within the limits of individual earthly existence is categorically ordered. In the second critique this impossibility leads us to the postulate of immortality: we infinitely strive to the accomplishment of the task. In the article of 1784 the conclusion reads: because the realization of the whole task exceeds the limits and capacities of individual earthly existence, the individual cannot be the addressee of the summons. Nature orders this task to the species. The species is immortal, we die. Our goal is not happiness, but self-sacrifice for the next generations.

* * *

22Now, if the destination of the human being absolutely considered as a historical being consists of following the goal of nature and that this goal is pursued by means of the unsociable sociability, war, revolution, etc., can every act for the progress of humanity be considered as a moral action? Another question: if the progress of humanity ordered by nature implies the cultivation of reason and the creation of institutions that guarantee freedom: is Enlightenment really an emancipation from nature or a free resolution to politically intervene in history in order to accelerate the hidden plan of nature?

  • 44 KrV B 817-822.
  • 45 ZeF, AA 08:380.

23Before we leave Kant for entering in the Fichtean universe, we have to admit that this consideration of cosmopolitanism in IaG is incompatible with the other versions of Kant’s cosmopolitanism, which agree with the main concepts, principles and lines of his philosophical program. We have mentioned two main problems: the first one concerns the method: Kant works genetically and the whole argument is apagogical, a kind of demonstration Kant actually rejects in the theory of method of his first critique.44 The second one concerns the postulate of immortality of the soul: morals and politics clash with each other, but whereas in Perpetual Peace Kant seems to pose morals above politics,45 in his article of 1784 we see Kant inverting this hierarchy as a solution.

Fichte

24No doubt, Fichte’s cosmopolitanism lacks the diversity of perspectives, nuances and the historical awareness of the Kantian account. Although this is correct, this does not mean that we cannot find or reconstruct different forms of cosmopolitanism in Fichte’s philosophy. Hence, before I analyze the Fichtean version of the epistemological and ontologico-political cosmopolitanism, I would like to very briefly show to what extent Fichte’s philosophy offers a religious, a moral, an educational and economic cosmopolitanism as well.

  • 46 See for instance GA II/1, 287-291 (Einige Aphorismen über Religion und Deismus, 1790); GA I/1, 19-2 (...)
  • 47 See for instance GA I/1, 371 (Beitrag zur Berichtigung des Publikums über die französische Revoluti (...)

25The core of Fichte’s religious cosmopolitanism is to be found in his conviction that there is a universal religion above all particular ones. Fichte follows the Enlightenment credo that there is a religion in which all men agree. This universal religion, which constitutes the essence of every historically determined religion, is based on the premise that all rational individuals possess the same moral capacity and can understand the necessity and validity of universal moral principles. Unlike particular religions, conditioned through the Zeitgeist, history and culture, universal religion refers to a natural disposition of man to transcend the limits of given experience.46 Sharing the same natural disposition and moral faculties makes all individuals member of the same invisible church, of which each existing religion is the manifestation.47

  • 48 See for instance GA I/2, 89 (Über die Würde des Menschen, 1794); GA I/8, 197-202 (Die Grundzüge des (...)
  • 49 See for instance GA II/7, 12-13 (Aphorismen über Erziehung, 1804) GA II/9, 366 (Ideen für die inner (...)

26Fichte’s moral cosmopolitanism arises every time he deals with the unity of humanity in terms of a moral community of the idea of such a universal communion of moral individuals.48 But the moral formation of individuals needs culture and culture basically consists of education and, concerning the social aspect of subjectivities, education in cosmopolitan values.49

  • 50 IaG, AA 08:27, see also ZeF AA 08:367.
  • 51 GA I/4, 162 (Grundlage des Naturrechts nach den Principien der Wissenschaftslehre, 1796/97).
  • 52 GA I/7, 119, 138 and 141 (Der geschlossene Handelsstaat, 1800).
  • 53 GA I/8, 361-363 (Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters, 1806).
  • 54 GA I/8, 363.

27What about economic cosmopolitanism? In the Kantian account, free world trade or free market economy is crucial for the development of the real conditions of possibility for legal cosmopolitanism. Kant understands free world trade as a manifestation of the antagonism that characterizes human beings and States.50 On the contrary, according to Fichte perpetual peace, which is “the only rightful relation among States”,51 can be reached, only if we actually proceed in the opposite way, namely: obstructing and impeding free market. This is the conclusion of his protectionist treatise on Political Economy Closed Commercial State.52 Fichte seems to have no confidence in the cunning of nature Kant thought to have discovered. Fichte’s proposal for a political praxis towards perpetual peace is precisely an anti-natural move: neutralization or sublimation of desire. However, there is passage in Fichte’s Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters where Fichte seems to agree with Kant about the advantages for the progress of Humanity human antagonism brings about when it is guided through nature.53 But these pages can be considered as the exception that confirms the rule. In this passage, Fichte talks about a cosmopolitan sense (Weltbürgersinne) for considering human history.54 Hence, there is for Fichte a kind of cosmopolitan point of view and consequently an epistemological cosmopolitanism as well. Like Kant, Fichte defends the idea of a cosmopolitan consideration of human history and destiny in teleological terms: there is a plan, there is a goal, there is providence. But Fichte is not as radical as Kant in secularizing the history and the destiny of humanity. Nature is for Fichte not the real name for providence. Human destiny goes beyond the limits of this life and this earth.

  • 55 GA I/8, 431 (Philosophie der Maurerei. Briefe an Konstant, 1802).
  • 56 GA I/8, 440.

28In his Letters to Konstant, published in 1802 in the journal Eleusinien des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts oder Resultate vereinigter Denker über Philosophie und Geschichte der Freimaurerei, we find an attempt at explaining epistemological cosmopolitanism. According to Fichte the goal of Freemasonry is the same goal of humanity as historically situated: the “common cultivation of the pure human being”.55 For achieving this goal there are according to Fichte three steps man has to accomplish: firstly, the creation of a pure moral and religious community, secondly the establishment of an absolute state of law on domestic and international levels, and, thirdly, the total dominance of nature under the authority of rational will.56 The cultivation of a cosmopolitan sense concerns the second step.

  • 57 GA I/8, 426.
  • 58 GA I/8, 439.
  • 59 GA II/12, 118 (Die Tatsachen des Bewusstseyns, 1810/11)

29In all three tasks Freemasonry can contribute to elevate citizens above individual and social egoism so they develop a perspective on moral, religious, political, cultural and scientific issues that coincides with the point of view of the human being as such, namely the individual absolutely emancipated from historical and cultural biases.57 Like Kant, this elevation does not mean that individuals arrive at a neutral point of view. But unlike Kant, Fichte conceives cultivation, culture and work for the progress of humanity within a horizon of transcendence, since the main principle in his lectures on Freemasonry reads: “the final goal of the human existence is absolutely not to be found in this present world. This first life is only preparation and germ of a higher existence”.58 This world is not the only one nor the higher one. This world is teleologically subordinated to a higher existence. The relativization of this world can be seen in Fichte’s conviction that cosmopolitanism, as Kant understands it, is inconsistent, since “there is no world other than the moral world”.59 The human being is a goal in itself and the cultivation of its potentialities is a component of the absolute or, better, of the real goal in itself.

  • 60 GA I/8, 450 (Philosophie der Maurerei).

30According to Fichte, what we need for the political progress of humanity are cosmopolitan minded citizens. Because the cosmopolitan point of view let people critically consider their own nation-state, laws and customs.60 So, only a cosmopolitan minded national citizen can positively contribute to the political progress of his or her own state. This progress implies of course establishment of rational (rightful) international relations. But the international order Fichte proposes, is only possible if the representatives of each nation-state are cosmopolitan minded, because Fichte thinks of this solution not as result of social antagonism, but as a result of mutual renounce to imperialist pretentions. Again: Kant’s nature as (sadistic) providence has disappeared in Fichte’s account. Instead, Fichte appeals to individual freedom and altruism as the motor of history.

  • 61 GA I/4, 163 (Grundlage des Naturrechts).

31Peace on earth is according to Fichte only possible through an unconditional and universal renounce to imperialism. For this purpose, the progress of Humanity needs authorities educated in cosmopolitan values and capable of considering political affairs from a cosmopolitan point of view. Although the establishment of a rational international state of law needs cosmopolitan minded politicians, law of nations and cosmopolitan law are two very different things in the Fichtean philosophy of right. Neither international order nor the principles for a confederation of nations is according to Fichte a matter of cosmopolitan law. Fichte considers that cosmopolitan law concerns the relation between states and individuals without state or belonging to a state that is not recognized by the state the individual wants to enter.61

  • 62 GA I/4, 164.
  • 63 GA I/4, 163.

32Cosmopolitan right is for Fichte “the right to go about freely on the earth and offer to establish rightful connections with others”.62 This right is, according to Fichte “the original human right which precedes all rightful contracts and which alone makes them possible”, namely “the right to every other human being’s expectation to be able to enter into a rightful relation with him through contracts”.63

  • 64 GA I/1, 279 (Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Urtheile des Publikums über die französische Revolution, (...)

33Hence, cosmopolitan right is the only human right that belongs to the human being as such: the right to be able to acquire rights. The original character of cosmopolitan right refers to the fact that it is a right that does not depend on conventions or contracts, it is right based on human nature. Cosmopolitan right is inherent to the being of the human being. In dealing with a law problem Fichte brings us back to ontology. The cosmopolitan understood as individual without citizenship coincides with the individual as the political basis for the creation of a state of law: both are situated outside of the scope of any state, both have the right and capacity for entering in rightful relations with other individuals and states. The pre-contractual subject of the beginning of the deduction of right in Fichte’s Foundation of Natural Right and the cosmopolitan deduced at the end of the same work are situated in the domain of moral consciousness depicted in the schema of hierarchic structures of all level of political intersubjectivity in Fichte’s writing on the French Revolution.64 So, cosmopolitan law and the concept of the cosmopolitan close the circle of Fichte’s political ontology.

34The cosmopolitan is the individual without positive rights and because of this is the only one capable of creating new rightful relations. Essentially it is the same subjectivity that is involved in the social contract, in the right of revolution and in the political and cultural cultivation and education of humanity.

Conclusions

35As a conclusion I would like to sum up some points of the present paper that can help for outlining further research in the cosmopolitan theories of Kant and Fichte:

36i) A close reading of Kant’s IaG does not only show that epistemological cosmopolitanism is related to the idea of an ontological continuity where reason appears as a product of nature, nature is redefined as a secularized version of providence and the political idea of cosmopolitanism is deduced as a result of a natural process, but also sheds light in internal conceptual and methodological tensions within the Kantian philosophy. Tensions that make every attempt at bringing a harmonious image of the Kantian universe appear a little bit suspicious. Integrating in the very-well known variations of Kant’s cosmopolitanism its ontologico-political version serves for abandoning the research hypothesis of a compatibility in Kant’s cosmopolitanisms or at least for reconsidering the limits and usefulness of such an hypothesis.

37ii) Fichte’s philosophy offers like the Kantian a diversity of forms of cosmopolitanism. Unlike the Kantian cosmopolitanisms, there are no methodological or conceptual short-circuits, since in dealing with cosmopolitanism, Fichte does not abandon his metaphysical presuppositions. But his decision for transcendence and metaphysical freedom does not let him to consider human historicity in its own complexity. Contrary to Kant’s proposal, Fichte’s cosmopolitan remains a sojourner in this world. Nevertheless, according to Fichte this way of living on earth is a true or authentic way of dwelling in the world because it follows the last goal of rational beings. It is quite interesting to observe how the issue of epistemological, cultural and educational cosmopolitanism makes Fichte a little bit aware of historicity. It is also true that the issue of Freemasonry contributes also for the development of a kind of historical awareness in Fichte’s philosophy. Fichte had to justify the necessity of secret societies, of groups working (conspiring) outside of the scope of the State. But Fichte’s awareness of the inherence of historicity to the rational being has its limits. He cannot admit that positive side Kant saw in war and social antagonism. For Fichte cosmopolitanism or better peacefully international order is only possible by means of the renouncement of all states to any kind of imperialism. The principle seems to read: the fewer the contacts among states are, the better this is for peace on earth and moral progress of humanity.

38iii) Kant and Fichte’s cosmopolitan theories encompass a cosmopolitan political ontology. By both philosophers, the cosmopolitan component is inherent to human ontology. In this regard, the word ‘cosmopolitan’ ceases to be a predicate and becomes a noun, the subject of an enunciation. By both philosophers, cosmopolitan ontology serves for the legitimation of a cosmopolitan view of politics. By each philosopher, these terms acquire a different content, the discourse has a different epistemological status, the nature of the postulated necessity differs as well. In dealing with cosmopolitanism, both philosophers offer original insights. Kant develops a philosophy of history wherein nature and reason are communicated in an ontological continuity that clashes with some main points of his critical philosophical program. It is a secularized history of salvation that can be considered as a theologico-political reading of human nature. In the legal treatment of cosmopolitanism, Fichte gives the term cosmopolitan a new meaning: she is the human being as such in three different views: in its immediacy as pre-contractual existing free or moral being, secondly, as citizen artificially stripped off of all legal-institutional mediations, and, thirdly, as lacking any citizenship at all.

39iv) In Fichte’s philosophy, like in the Kantian account, the cosmopolitan becomes flesh, but she does not have primarily to be identified with the merchants and intellectuals in Königsberg, the Dutch in Japan or the British in India. Fichte seems to be more interested in the other extreme of capitalism: the individual without any citizenship at all or without any right, the illegal migrant, the refugee. In her lacking of citizenship and rights, the cosmopolitan incarnates a summons for creating the needed legal framework that can positively integrate this outside of legality. From a Fichtean point of view we could say that today refugee crisis is a call to reinventing international and cosmopolitan law as well as rethinking Europe and nation-states.

40v) The main point of divergence between both philosophers concerning cosmopolitanism seems to be their conceptions of nature and their attitude toward secularization and immanence/transcendence. Other differences, for instance their philosophies of history, their view on economy and human progress, their expectations about and hope in what human consciously can bring about for the progress of humanity, can be grouped as deduced from the opposition in their conceptions on nature and the limits of human existence.

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Notas

1 I cited Kant’s writings from Kant, I., Gesammelte Schriften (AA), ed. Vol. 1-22 Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften, vol. 23 Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, ab vol. 24 Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1900ff., following the list of Sigla proposed by the Kant-Studien https://www.degruyter.com/view/supplement/s16131134_Instructions_for_Authors_en.pdf (seen on 12/09/2017). I cited Fichte’s writings from Fichte, J. G., Gesamtausgabe (GA), ed. by Lauth, R. et al., Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Stuttgart/Bad Cannstatt: Frommann Holzboog, 1964ff..

2 The most representative studies are Kleingeld, P., Kant and Cosmopolitanism. The Philosophical Ideal of World Citizenship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012; Cavallar, G., Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism. History, Philosophy and Education for World Citizens. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015.

3 IaG, AA 08:18 and 30. See also the papers on this Kantian writing collected in Oksenberg Rorty, A. & Schmidt, J., Kant’s Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim. A Critical Guide, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

4 See for instance James, D., Fichte's Republic: Idealism, History and Nationalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015; Goddard, J-Chr. et al., Fichte et la politique, Milano: Polimetrica, 2009 and Radrizzani, I., “Ist Fichtes Modell des Kosmopolitismus pluralistisch”, in: Fichte-Studien 2 (1990), pp. 7-19.

5 Zöller, G. & James, D. (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Fichte, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.

6 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosophy”, in: Ethics and Global Policy 5/2 (2012), pp. 95-118 and Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism.

7 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosophy”, pp. 99-100 and 113-114, fn. 19.

8 Cavallar, G., Kant’s Embedded Cosmopolitanism, p. 28.

9 Ib.pp. 23-27 and 86-87.

10 Ib. p. 5.

11 Reflexionen zur Anthropologie, AA 15: 518.

12 Ib. p. 24.

13 Ib. p. 5.

14 Ib. p. 25-26.

15 Cavallar, G., “Cosmopolitanisms in Kant’s Philosohy”, pp. 102.

16 IaG 08:17-18 and 29-30. See also Raulet, G. “La téléologie critique et ses paradigmes scientifiques”, in: Con-textos kantianos 1 (2015), p. 34 and Wood, A. W., “Kant’s Philosophy of History”, in: Kleingeld, P. (ed.), Toward Perpetual Peace and other Writings on Politics, Peace and History, New York: Yale University Press, 2006, pp. 245.

17 IaG, AA 08: 17 and 28.

18 See for instance KrV B 490-504 and GA I/3, 75-90 (Über Belebung und Erhöhung des reinen Interesse für Wahrheit, 1795).

19 IaG, AA 08:30.

20 IaG, AA 08:28. See also WA, AA 08:39.

21 Laclau, E., On Populist Reason, London: Verso, 2005, pp. 67-72.

22 ZeF, AA 08:369.

23 IaG, AA 08:20.

24 ZeF, AA 08:367 fn..

25 Kleingeld, P. “Kant’s Changing Cosmopolitanism”, in Rorty, A. O. & Schmidt, J. (eds.) Kant's Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim: A Critical Guide, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 179.

26 IaG, AA 08:20-22, 24-26 and 30; ZeF, AA 08:360-368.

27 Anth, AA 09:330-333.

28 IaG, AA 08: 18, 20-22 and 24.

29 IaG, AA 08:17, 20-21 and 27.

30 IaG, AA 08:17 and 30.

31 ZeF, AA 08:363 and 368.

32 IaG, AA 08:27.

33 IaG, AA 08:468.

34 IaG AA 08:30.

35 See for instance Mentzel, H., Gründliche Anleitung, billig und recht nach göttlicher Absicht von der Freyheit des Menschen zu urtheilen, Leipzig/Bresslau, 1739; Bengel, J. A., Erklärte Offenbarung Johannis oder vielmehr Jesu Christi, Stuttgart, 1740, p. 345 and Christlieb, W. B., Gründliche Beurtheilung des Zeit-Punkts darinnen wir nach der Offenbarung Jesu Christi gegenwertig [sic] leben, Frankfurt a.M./Leipzig, 1758, p. 30.

36 AA 15:517.

37 IaG, AA 08:30.

38 RezHerder, AA 08:52-55.

39 IaG AA 08:17-18.

40 IaG AA 08:20 and 30. See also WA, AA 08:41.

41 For a more exhaustive analysis of Kant’s cocnept of nature in IaG see my “Racionalização da Natureza: Cosmopolitismo kantiano como uma predisposição natural?”, in: Studia Kantiana v. 14 n. 21 (2016) pp. 55-76.

42 IaG, AA 08:19-20.

43 KpV, AA 05:122-124.

44 KrV B 817-822.

45 ZeF, AA 08:380.

46 See for instance GA II/1, 287-291 (Einige Aphorismen über Religion und Deismus, 1790); GA I/1, 19-21 (Versuch einer Critik aller Offenbarung, 1792/93); GA I/5, 348 (Ueber den Grund unsers Glaubens an eine göttliche Weltregierung, 1798); GA I/8, 446-447 (Philosophie der Maurerei. Briefe an Konstant, 1802) GA II/5, 136 (Rückerinnerungen, Antworten und Fragen, 1799); GA I/9, 68-69 (Die Anweisung zum seeligen Leben, 1806); GA II/12, 333 (Vorlesungen über die Bestimmung des Gelehrten, 1811).

47 See for instance GA I/1, 371 (Beitrag zur Berichtigung des Publikums über die französische Revolution, 1793); GA I/5, 213 and 303-304 (Das System der Sittenlehre nach den Principien der Wissenschaftslehre, 1798).

48 See for instance GA I/2, 89 (Über die Würde des Menschen, 1794); GA I/8, 197-202 (Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters, 1806).

49 See for instance GA II/7, 12-13 (Aphorismen über Erziehung, 1804) GA II/9, 366 (Ideen für die innere Organisation der Universität Erlangen (1806) and GA I/10, 189 (Reden an die deutsche Nation, 1808).

50 IaG, AA 08:27, see also ZeF AA 08:367.

51 GA I/4, 162 (Grundlage des Naturrechts nach den Principien der Wissenschaftslehre, 1796/97).

52 GA I/7, 119, 138 and 141 (Der geschlossene Handelsstaat, 1800).

53 GA I/8, 361-363 (Die Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters, 1806).

54 GA I/8, 363.

55 GA I/8, 431 (Philosophie der Maurerei. Briefe an Konstant, 1802).

56 GA I/8, 440.

57 GA I/8, 426.

58 GA I/8, 439.

59 GA II/12, 118 (Die Tatsachen des Bewusstseyns, 1810/11)

60 GA I/8, 450 (Philosophie der Maurerei).

61 GA I/4, 163 (Grundlage des Naturrechts).

62 GA I/4, 164.

63 GA I/4, 163.

64 GA I/1, 279 (Beitrag zur Berichtigung der Urtheile des Publikums über die französische Revolution, 1793/94)

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Emiliano Acosta, « Revisiting Kant and Fichte’s Conceptions of Cosmopolitanism », Revista de Estud(i)os sobre Fichte [En línea], 16 | 2018, Publicado el 01 diciembre 2018, consultado el 23 abril 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ref/805

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Emiliano Acosta

Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Ghent University

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