Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg, Prussia in 1724. He studied philosophy, mathematics and physics at the University of Königsberg, and became a renowned teacher and scholar thanks to his works on reason, knowledge and judgment. Indeed, he intended to explain rationalism, and therefore explored the mechanisms of thought. He founded the criticism with works such as the Critique of the pure reason (1781), the Critique of the practical reason (1787), and the Critique of the faculty of judgment (1790). By “pure reason”, he meant the part of the thought that is independent from experience but he insisted on the necessity to link rationalism and empirism. In that regard, we can say that Kant was not committed in the debates of his time. Still, in What is Enlightenment? (1784), he took part in the contemporary reflection through his work on universal history from a cosmopolitan viewpoint.
[...] This essay represents his attempt to show that perpetual peace between states is an ideal towards which we are morally compelled to strive. This work is based upon a number of postulates, linked to the theories Kant exposed in his previous works. Indeed, Kant sides with Hobbes in considering war as the state of nature. He sees that war is a de facto state and that, therefore, a gigantic, universal state is illusionary to implement peace. That's why he sees the need for a federation of free nation-states based on international law: all conflicts between states would be settled through discussion and legal arbitration. [...]
[...] It is a practical and moral necessity, as it is the achievement of a natural process wished by Nature in giving us reason. To Kant, reason is the faculty to determine moral and practical right. Therefore, the main obstacle to peace is not mankind's warlike tendencies, but its incapacity to see reason when the prospect of war arises. In this way, perpetual peace is not a duty imposed to us by Nature, because duties can only be imposed through practical reason. [...]
[...] Moreover, in defining peace as the highest political good, Kant means that peace is the achievement of right and, as such, that peace as a moral goal is only valid if it is compatible with right. Indeed, in Perpetual peace, Kant shows the necessity to establish peace through right, which is the only legitimate way to peace. Still, if the institutionalization of right is always feasible, the institutionalization of peace is an infinite process, an inconclusive task. As such, if Kant tried to show the compatibility between the theory and the practice of peace, he recognizes that perpetual peace shall remain an [...]
[...] Even though the practical and moral paths to perpetual peace are linked, Kant still cautions against deference to practical rather than moral ends. Indeed, he explains in the Appendix I the difficulty to conciliate politics and morals and subsequently exposes why perpetual peace can only be reached through reason, as opposed to force or political expediency. To explain the way in which morality is necessary to politics, and the way in which politics is an applied branch of right, Kant uses the metaphor of the “moral politician” and the “political moralist”. [...]
[...] This implies that a state that would impose peace by force would thereby destroy the very condition that legitimates peace. III. A utopian project? In Kant's definition of peace as an ideal of pure reason, based upon universal and intangible principles, peace cannot be but perpetual. This is the great difference his work makes with peace treaties, which leave the issue of peace to human will and are therefore similar to armistices. However, as such, peace is an idea in contradiction with the reality. [...]
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