Friday, September 24, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 3.1 (Immanuel Kant)

Political Writings
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Kant, Immanuel
Political Writings

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I think I used the essay "Perpetual Peace" from this book as one of the readings on my oral exam list. I don't remember much about it, or even much about Kant's political thought.

Last night I got to witness a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle in downtown Buffalo. To kick off the big regional art exhibition, Beyond/In Western New York, Didier Pasquette, a French high wire artist, walked along a tightrope strung between the two Statue of Liberty replicas atop the Liberty building.

Lori and I walked Zelda downtown and then climbed 9 flights to the top level of a public parking lot to watch. Both of us forgot the camera, so all of our pictures are crappy iPhone photos. One of them came out ok -- atmospherically, at least.

There were several surprises, which I think for many turned out to be disappointments. First, the state required him to wear a harness, which removed the danger element, for all intents and purposes. Insurance companies really know how to ruin a good spectacle.

Second, it only took him three minutes to get across and he only did one crossing. After he finished, he waved his hat to everyone, then we cheered and you could here practically the whole city cheering, and then we all stood there for ten or so more minutes waiting for him to do something else -- but that was it.

Nonetheless, Buffalo is often short on spectacle and this was one for the ages.

from Politcal Writings

'The Perpetual Peace'

A dutch innkeeper once put this satirical inscription on his signboard, along with the picture of a graveyard. We shall not trouble to ask whether it applies to men in general, or particularly to heads of states (who can never have enough of war), or only to the philosophers who blissfully dream of perpetual peace. The author of the present essay does, however, make one reservation in advance. The practical politician tends to look down with great complacency upon the political theorist as a mere academic. The theorist's abstract ideas, the practitioner believes, cannot endanger the state, since the state must be founded upon principles of experience; it thus seems safe to let him fire off his whole broadside, and the worldly wise statesman need not turn a hair. It thus follows that if the practical politician is to be consistent, he must not claim, in the event of a dispute with the theorists, to scent any danger to the state in the opinions which the theorists has randomly uttered in public. By this saving clause, the author of this essay will consider himself expressly safeguarded, in correct and proper style, against all malicious interpretation.

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