Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Helene Cixous

In June 2010, the Perpetual Peace Project filmed the French philosopher Helene Cixous in her apartment in Paris. She explained that every human being is entitled to dream of peace, and that Perpetual Peace was an action on Kant's part to remind and to reactive the desire for peace. Like Kant, she remarked that she believes in the unbelievable, and there has to be an ideal possibility which may be beyond actualization but nevertheless requires our effort. The idea of peace may be an ideal, a dream that is beyond the ordinary limits of human achievement, but if we did not have this dream we would repeat, recede, and regress. Desire is the real power of humanity, Cixous suggested, and all these dreams and hopes make for a second reality. Democracy, like peace itself, is a 'dreamworld' that we have to work, insist, repeat, invent and never give up our efforts to change and improve.

With regards to Kant's secret article proposing a conversation between philosophers and statesmen, she suggested that Kant was right to formulate that hope, in the abstract, of a conversation. Cixous was doubtful whether this conversation could be institutionalized without becoming emblematic of power. In her own case, she would prefer to engage in conversation not with a diplomat but rather with an army general who deals with the actuality of force and death, and that one would also have to enlarge the very concept of the philosopher that participates in this conversation. With regards to the concept of cosmpolitanism that Kant introduces in the text, Cixous argued that we are each part of one global community, and we are cosmopolitan whether we want to be or not. She spoke of how the European Union began as a dream inspired by this very idea of cosmpolitanism, in which people come together through their very differencs and oppositions. However, it still faces the problem of avoiding the evils of Nationalism as it finds equilibrium between singular nations as they are incorporated into collections of other nations.

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