XI KANT KONGRESS, XI Congresso Kantiano Internazionale

What’s Wrong With a Guarantee of Perpetual Peace?

Luigi Caranti

Edificio: Palazzo dei Congressi
Sala: sala Newton
Data: 22 maggio 2010 - 14:30
Ultima modifica: 11 aprile 2010


One of the most controversial and criticized tenets of Kant’s entire philosophy is that nature guarantees that perpetual peace will be achieved one day. Many have read in this optimistic prediction nothing but a piece of simpleminded faith in the progress of mankind, typical of an Enlightenment way of thinking not yet scrutinized and properly criticized. Recent sympathetic commentators of Kant (Guyer, Ludwig) have thus attempted various strategies for watering down Kant’s claim and for separating his peace project from similar predictions judged incompatible not only with contemporary philosophical taste, but also with Kant’s own fundamental epistemological principles. One simple reason for being suspicious of this hermeneutical orientation is that Kant’s writings on history – where various forms of this “guarantee” appear – all belong to the critical period. Another one is that Kant never abandoned this progressive view of history that is – if anything – stated more clearly in the last significant writing Kant devotes to history, The Contest of the Faculties. This paper tries to take Kant seriously to show that – properly understood – the idea that there is a guarantee of perpetual peace is a thesis less embarrassing than usually assumed – and certainly is a non-disposable part of Kant’s project. The paper proceeds by reconstructing the various forms of guarantees offered in Kant’s writings on history to come up, in the end, with a view neither dogmatic nor sterilized to meet contemporary (mostly post-modern) scepticism.