XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

Conflict and Cosmopolitanism: Kant and Nietzsche on War and Peace

Martine Prange

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Newton
Data: 23 maggio 2010 - 17:00
Ultima modifica: 12 aprile 2010


Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is often seen as a philosopher propagating war, whereas Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is generally regarded as a philosopher of peace. This paper corrects this dichotomic image in offering a combined study of Kant’s and Nietzsche’s concept of ‘conflict’ in the light of their shared pleas for cosmopolitanism. It argues, first, that both Kant and Nietzsche take a naturalistic view of conflict as vantage-point for reflecting on human society and development and, second, that their reflections result in, surprisingly supplementary, views of cosmopolitanism as ‘institutionalized’ cosmopolitanism (Kant) and cosmopolitan ‘attitude’ (Nietzsche).
The paper claims that both Kant and Nietzsche perceived the competition between human beings as a positive way to develop humanity’s natural dispositions, yet expressly rejected military warfare. However, either has a very different take on competition; for example, Kant eventually has an instrumental view on conflict: conflict helps the historical development of perpetual and international peace, whereas Nietzsche has an ontological view, which contests that conflict permeates every expression and form of life. Peace, therefore, can never be eternal for Nietzsche. As a consequence, the question from a Nietzschean point of view is, how conflictuous situations can be bent into non-violent expressions of power.
The final challenge of this paper, then, resides in exploring the nature of the (possible/ actual) relation(s) between Kant’s and Nietzsche’s different concepts of cosmopolitanism as a ‘league of nations’, or ‘world-state’, or as ‘dynamic interculturalism’ (my term) and proposing that new theories of cosmopolitanism should, first, emphasize the end of cosmopolitanism, namely achieving ‘humanity’, and, second, ‘conflict’ as integral part of human relations.