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On Cosmopolitanism

What is cosmopolitanism? And what does it mean to be a cosmopolitan?

7:00pm, Tuesday 20 September 2016, Art Workers Guild,6 Queen Square, WC1N 3AT London.

In the eighteenth century, the Enlightenment philosopher Kant developed the cosmopolitan idea as a way of ultimately transcending national divisions and international conflict. But is Kant’s cosmopolitanism appropriate to the 21st century? Or does it need to be reworked?

Does cosmopolitanism provide the best way of challenging nationalism and racism, counteracting the ‘tribalism’ of national and ethnic groups, which cultivate a narrow, exclusive and potentially violent sense of identity.

Do we need a new cosmopolitanism, where the arts are at the centre of promoting the ‘cosmopolitan imagination’, creating possibilities of dialogue and community-building’ ‘intertwining of the local within the global’, cultivating ‘citizens of the world’?
Do artists have a special responsibility to promote cosmopolitanism as a new moral framework around which a more equal and open-minded society can be built?


Manick Govinda, Dolan Cummings and Wendy Earle will launch this evening’s discussion on the cosmopolitan idea.


1. Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (2007)
This landmark work challenges the separatist doctrines which have come to dominate our understanding of the world. Appiah revives the ancient philosophy of Cosmopolitanism, which dates back to the Cynics of the 4th century, as a means of understanding the complex world of today. Arguing that we concentrate too much on what makes us different rather than recognising our common humanity, Appiah explores how we can act ethically in a globalised world.

2. Jason D Hill, Becoming a Cosmopolitan: What It means to be a Human Being in the New Millennium (2011)
Jason D. Hill argues that we need a new understanding of the self. He revives the idea of the cosmopolitan, the person who identifies the world as home. Arguing for the right to forget where we came from, Hill proposes a new moral cosmopolitanism for the new millennium.

3. Immanuel Kant: Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View

4. Spiked Review (July 2016) on A New Europe

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