En europeisk kosmopolit. En idéhistorisk studie av Immanuel Kants Om den eviga freden och dess verkningshistoria

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation, a contribution to the history of ideas, is a study of Immanuel Kant’s 1795 monograph Zum ewigen Frieden (Perpetual Peace) and its effective history. The intention is to show how this particular work has been formed, read, discussed and interpreted for about 200 years. Considering the attention the work received on its bicentennial anniversary in comparison with the attention it had received before that, there is a good reason for studying it in a long perspective. This book consists of three parts. In part I, the focus is directed on the situation in which Kant wrote Perpetual Peace. The peace treaty tradition and the view of war and peace are dealt with as a background for the ideas and the reception of Kant’s peace treaty. The form and content of Perpetual Peace are discussed as well as its relation to Kant’s critical philosophy. Part II focuses on the principle ideas in Perpetual Peace: how a peaceful society founded on principles of rights is possible. Kant’s solution is to suggest a certain internal order in society, which should be complemented with an external. In my analysis of his republicanism, federalism, and cosmopolitanism, I emphasise Kant’s dependence on stoic ideals, but also on the French revolutionist Emmanuel Sieyès. Part III, finally, is an attempt to apply Gadamer’s concept of effective history on the large varieties of readings of Perpetual Peace over time. One of the interpreters was the German philosopher Karl Vorländer, who as an ideological advisor for the German socialist party tried to concretise Kant’s ideas of perpetual peace. His view of Kant is far from the ideals in Wilhelminian Germany, as well as from the cosmopolitan ideals appearing in the 1990s. These quite different interpretations of Perpetual Peace indicate that it makes sense to use such a concept as effective history. In my discussion all these aspects are of importance.


  • Rebecka Lettevall
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History of Ideas


  • history of ideas, History of philosophy, Vorländer., Kant, stoicism, effective history, enlightenment, 18th century, Europe, citizenship, federalism, perpetual peace, cosmopolitanism, peace, Filosofins historia, idéhistoria, Modern history (up to circa 1800), Tidig modern historia (till ca. 1800)
Translated title of the contributionA European Cosmopolite. A study in the History of Ideas of Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace and its Effective History
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2001 May 23
  • Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
Print ISBNs91-7139-525-3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2001-05-23 Time: 10:15 Place: Department of History of Ideas and Science, room 201, Lund University, Biskopsg. 7, Lund, Sweden External reviewer(s) Name: Olausson, Lennart Title: Prof. Affiliation: Göteborg University ---