Curatorial Initiatives
Kant's Essay

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In Conversation with Peter Szendy

In June 2010 the Perpetual Peace Project filmed philosopher Peter Szendy at Parc Montsouris in Paris. He spoke of Kant's interest in how ideas produce effects, and suggested that ideas such as peace do things simply by being said, and that these effects cannot be controlled by attempts to determine their program in advance or calculate their effects. He spoke of peace as always beginning in the here and now in everyday life, as soon as we begin talking, agreeing, and disagreeing. Peace is already underway and always at stake in these discussions which constitute a proto-political way of talking about peace. These discussions do not yet constitute politics in any formal sense that implies institutions, and have to be accompanied by articulations on the global level. or it is not yet peace worthy of the name.

Szendy noted that Kant speaks from a rational point of view that is outside of the earth, as if one can only think of peace from a perspective from above. He also noted that for Kant transparency is an equally important condition for peace, and is proposed against the secrecy of nation-states; however, Szendy argued that the idea of peace as a generalized state could also inaugurate a state of constant surveillance in which one is able to see everyone at any time. He also spoke of the idea of nuclear warfare as having something to do with the idea of perpetual peace. This is not only because universal destruction could amount to another version of perpetual peace, but also because the threat of nuclear warfare is always deferred and to come.

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