Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Richard Sennett

In April 2010, the Perpetual Peace Project invited sociologist Richard Sennett to speak about the topic in the Mercer Hotel in New York City. He recalled in his remarks that the first image Kant provides is of a public inn, and that throughout the text Kant engages the idea of a public right to hospitality.

Sennett began by reflecting on his experiences as a student of the philosopher Hannah Arendt, and spoke of her suspicions with regard to Kant's political philosophy as well as her particular interest in this text. He proposed that we think of perpetual peace not on the level of the nation-state, but rather with regard to our individual circumstances. Although diplomacy is conventionally understood as a specialized practice, a form of knowledge held by practitioners alone, he spoke of the possibility of an 'everyday diplomacy' where peace serves as an instrument of everyday life. Sennett cautioned that it would be naive to think of peace as a state of relaxation or an end to conflict; rather peace should be understood as a state of constant tension, one maintained and enacted through daily rituals.

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