The Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Volume One

Destroying Cosmopolitanism for the Sake of the CosmosWhat would the value of cosmopolitanism as a concept be? How might it work and what problems might it resolve or transform? Today the term intersects with globalism, offering itself as a mode of connection or collective resistance that would enable a thought of some political totality or ‘open whole’ irreducible to the forces of the market. The problem appears to be posed, from Kant to the present, as a way of thinking beyond human to human conflict—seeking a higher order beyond interests of individuals and polities.Cosmopolitanism appears to be a self-evident good: is not the very concept of the good oriented towards that which would be or could be a good for all? Insofar as we rationally will anything at all we seem not only to be claiming something for ourselves as particular persons, but also to be appealing to some ideal or idea as such that could be agreed to by any subject whatever. Cosmopolitanism is at once in line with a purely formal or procedural liberalism, but also has the benefit of appealing not only to that which ‘we’ here and now agree to be good, but beyond that to some virtual humanity not yet present: ‘Cosmopolitanism … starts with what is human in humanity’ Appiah 2006,134. If cosmopolitanism is a universalism that is also not the assertion of one’s actual goals as the goals of all, but indicates an ideal of maximal inclusion and self-critique, who would assert the contrary? And what would the contrary thesis be? That we are all, inevitably, bound up with local attachments incapable of truly transcending the particular? No, even that suggestion is already incorporated in a good cosmopolitanism. We are all culturally embedded, and cosmopolitanism cannot be a naïve or violent assertion of a single and uniform humanity. Cosmopolitanism is not the reduction of all difference to a single model of citizenship; it is, rather, an Idea of a polity—a gathering of bodies for discussion, decision and determination—that would not be that of this or that nation but of the cosmos. We might say that the cosmos is an Idea in the Kantian sense: we require the notion of the cosmos in order to think the relations among different localities, and this Idea generates a task for future thinking, but such an Idea can never be fully actualized or presented. Perhaps, today, this cosmopolitan idea is more urgent and more possible than ever. Surely it is the advent of increasingly evident threats to this cosmos—resource depletion, rising sea levels, global heating, desertification, species extinction, viral apocalypse, violent fundamentalisms, bio-weapons—that impel us to free the polis from the nation state and imagine a greater cosm

via The Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Volume One.

About Makere

A transplanted New Zealand Scots/Maori academic/grandmother/random singer and sometime activist, my life is shaped by a deep conviction of the necessity for active critical engagement in the multi-faceted global and local crises of being and survival of species that confront us in the 21st century, the urgency of re-visioning the meaning of thriving together, and the contribution of Indigenous knowledge systems to a truly sustainable and just global society.
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