Kant and Modern Political Philosophy

Kant and Modern Political Philosophy

Kant and Modern Political Philosophy

Kant and Modern Political Philosophy

Synopsis

In this book Katrin Flikschuh examines the relevance of Kant's political thought to major issues and problems in contemporary political philosophy. She argues that Kant's philosophy of Right endorses the role of metaphysics in political thinking, in contrast to its generally hostile reception in the field today, and that his account of political obligation is cosmopolitan in its inception, assigning priority to the global rather than the domestic context. Her study will be of interest to political philosophers, political theorists, and historians of ideas.

Excerpt

The ideas behind this book initially emerged in 1987, when I was walking through the Sahel zone of Burkina Faso – though I did not then know that I was going to write a book on Kant's political philosophy. In fact, the Sahelian undertaking was rather fortuitous. When I arrived at Ouagadougou airport my luggage had been lost in transit. Although airport staff assured me that I would have it back within a week, it never showed up again. The loss turned out to be a good thing, however, in so far as it gave me the confidence to set out on the road bound northwards, towards Niger. The Sahel was not what I had expected. I had imagined something more like a 'proper' desert. The Sahel is a semi-arid transitional region between savannah and desert. It consists of stony ground and low-growing, thorny shrubs with a few stunted trees in-between and the odd enormous baobab-tree here and there. There is the occasional mount that rises abruptly from the ground, but for the most part the Sahel is flat, vast, hot, and silent. At first I was reluctant to ask people's help, but I quickly realised that in an environment like this everyone depends on the co-operation of everyone else. My memory of overnight stays is of an unquestioning hospitality that always followed the same basic pattern: first you were welcomed with a drink of water, then sat down and questioned about your 'mission', and eventually led outdoors to bathe over a bucket of water. Finally you were invited to your evening meal, usually alone, because others should not watch you eat. I was amazed by the grace and sophistication of the people, whose survival within the conditions around them seemed to me to depend on a delicate balancing act between themselves and nature.

It might seem inappropriate to begin a book on Kant's political . . .

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