To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch

To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch

To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch

To Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch

Synopsis

What is the standing of a sovereign nation and what are its rights relative to other sovereign nations? What is our obligation to pursue peace? Can intervention in the affairs of another sovereign nation be justified? Who, if any one, has the right to intervene? In this short essay, Kant completes his political theory and philosophy of history, considering the prospects for peace among nations and addressing questions that remain central to our thoughts about nationalism, war, and peace. Ted Humphrey provides an eminently readable translation, along with a brief introduction that sketches Kant's argument.

Excerpt

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Whether this satirical inscription on a certain Dutch shopkeeper's sign, on which a graveyard was painted, holds for men in general, or especially for heads of state who can never get enough of war, or perhaps only for philosophers who dream that sweet dream, is not for us to decide. However, the author of this essay does set out one condition: The practical politician tends to look down with great smugness on the political theorist, regarding him as an academic whose empty ideas cannot endanger the nation since the nation must proceed on principles [derived from] experience; consequently, the theorist is allowed to fire his entire volley, without the worldly-wise statesman becoming the least bit concerned. Now if he is to be consistent—and this is the condition I set out—the practical politician must not claim, in the event of a dispute with a theorist, to detect some danger to the nation in those views that the political theorist expresses openly and without ulterior motive. By this clausula salvatoria, the author of this essay will regard himself to be expressly protected in the best way possible from all malicious interpretation.

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