Projet de paix perpétuelle: esquisse philosophique

6174 stars
Immanuel Kant

Projet de paix perpétuelle: esquisse philosophique by Immanuel Kant PDF, TXT, ePub, PDB, RTF, FB2.

Title Projet de paix perpétuelle: esquisse philosophique
Rating 6174 stars
Author Immanuel Kant
Pages 136
Isbn 2711613801
Review I'm only half way through, but a terribly interesting little book. Kant essentially treats nations as persons and then applies his categorical imperitive, particularly its second formation from the Groundwork - treat people as ends, never means - as the basis for creating perpetual peace.

Very interesting point he makes about democracies being despotic by definition - but I think this is avoided by the notion of separation of powers. All the same, he has me thinking about this. His point being that a democracy, by definition, is required to have the same power enforcing its will as that which creates its will. And this is the will of the majority over the minority. So, there is no separation of powers and this is not really a republic, but a despotism. Like I said, I think the separation of powers between the administrative functions of government and the legislative functions are enough to overcome this concern, but I might need to think about this some more.

There is an absolutely fantastic footnote in which a Greek king wishes to end the strife he is facing with the Bulgarian Prince by challenging him to a duel (you know, pistols at dawn) and the response is, If a blacksmith has tongs he never picks up a piece of glowing iron from the fire with his bare hands. Ah, the joys of having a personal army. Must get myself some followers.

He believes that if all nations were republics then there could be no wars. If only he understood the power of Fox News, nationalism and the near inexhaustable gullibility of 'the people' when it comes to matters of national pride.

He believes that republics would rarely vote for war, because the people most likely to suffer from war would be given a say. Princes, who at the time had an appetite for war that seemed never to be sated, only had that appetite because they did not have to live with the consequences of their actions. During the war they still had their summer palaces, etc.

But the modern world has proven Kant wrong here too, unfortunately. Is the unconcern of these princes any different to the public in the USA or Britain or Australia who can send our specialist military class off to war with the people of Iraq, reduce their country to rubble and barely notice the consequences at all at home? Modern technology has made Princes of us all.

His point that the natural state of humanity as nation is war is an interesting one - not least because what is best about people is not what is natural about us, but what we do to constrain our natural impulses. Norms between nations - rules and standards of behaviour - are essential, but how to achieve this?

A remarkably current book in so many ways, as one would expect from something written only a little over 200 years ago.


Surprisingly untouched by time. A good argument for small government but does ignore that local majorities can be dead wrong when it comes to their neighbors well-being. That aside, strong points and clear, rational thinking is prevalent. I experienced this on audiobook after Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience and the whole time I felt like this was what Thoreau was trying to be, but fell flat.

I especially enjoyed the idea of arguments being forced into the public eye as a test for their merit... but I feel Kant assumed as educated public as it almost seems necessary for this, and his other, ideas.

Worth reading/ listening.

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