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Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Boris Groys

In December 2009, the Perpetual Peace Project invited Boris Groys to speak about the topic at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, on the site of the former 1939 and 1964 Worlds Fair. He spoke in front of the Unisphere, which was commissioned as the thematic symbol of the 1964 Fair to celebrate the beginning of the space age. The theme of the Fair was "Peace Through Understanding" and the Unisphere represented the spirit of global interdependence. It was dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe," and we felt that the Unisphere would provide an ironic backdrop for Groys' comments about a world marked by perpetual conflicts.

Responding to the "utopian" and future-oriented aspirations of the site, Groys cautioned us that the figure of the philosopher in fact has no role in the nation-state. Moreover, Groys emphasized that Kant's acknowledgement of this reality, in which practitioners do not consider the maxims of philosophers at all, led him to redefine the role of the philosopher altogether. With the publication of Kant's essay on Perpetual Peace, a newly cosmopolitan conception of the philosopher and of philosophical discourse thus emerges that goes beyond the nation-state structure altogether. Kant envisions, according to Groys, philosophical discourse as a neutral space of conversation about peace and conflict, one in which the philosopher speaks from a kind of intranational or immaterial space of critique.

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