Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 16, No 2 (2020)

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Kant’s Hermeneutics of Progress

Zachary Biondi


Kant’s Idea for a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View proposes a method of historiography according to which humanity is depicted as progressing towards a state of freedom, perpetual peace, and cosmopolitanism. In short, it puts forward what one might call a hermeneutics of progress: a self-consciously political exegetical framework. This paper locates the hermeneutic in Kant’s political essays and explores a number of its characteristics, for instance, its self-reflexivity. The hermeneutic is seen to be more than a call for politically progressive historiography but also a broader philosophy of history that challenges institutional assumptions.

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