Abstracts for June: Cosmopolitanism

‘The Problem of Cosmopolitan Identification’

Nick Faulkner

Cosmopolitanism, at its most general level, encourages people to think, feel and act as though they are members of an all-inclusive human group, and claims that people are capable of doing this. Drawing on research from international political theory and social psychology, this paper identifies and evaluates three models of how people might come to think, feel and act as though they are members of such a group. In the first of these – the ‘one group’ model – people abandon all their previously-held group memberships and recategorise all people (including themselves) into a single all-inclusive group. In the second – the ‘dual identity’ model – people remain attached to their specific subgroup(s) while at the same time identifying with an overarching group that includes all humans. In the third – the ‘overlapping groups’ model – people do not identify directly with an all-inclusive overarching group, but are still able to expand their circles of inclusion by recognising: (a) that they belong to a wide range of groups; and, (b) that distant others will also belong to at least some of the same groups as themselves. Ultimately, the talk will suggest that none of these models are likely to be effective in practice.

‘Why Peace? From Kant to Freud and Marx, with Castoriadis to Ourselves …’

Lachlan Ross

This lecture will have four sections. The first will discuss what Cosmopolitanism is for Kant, and how we must agonisingly proceed towards it without ever getting there (what is most important is that we keep trying, and that we keep in mind that somebody, though not us, will eat the fruit off the tree that we plant). The next two sections will present a) an odd warning by Freud against Cosmopolitanism in the Kantian style, and b) Marx’s equally odd alteration of Kant whereby the unreachable goal is posited as being just over the hill of revolution: ‘workers of all countries unite’ is after all a Cosmopolitan position. The last section will discuss how Cosmopolitanism (as I will define it via Kant) is possible for us, suggesting that a) it requires a belief that all human beings past and future, ‘neighbour’ and ‘foreigner’, all possess something in common that makes them all ‘human beings’, and that therefore b) it is not a position that is possible for all peoples at all times, if the ‘other’ is seen as ‘bizarre, inferior, perverse, evil, or unfaithful’, as it is frequently seen by those who live in what Castoriadis defines as ‘closed’ or heteronomous institutions.

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