Cosmopolitanism as critical theory: an analysis of the ethics, methodology and practice of critical cosmopolitanism

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Močnik, Špela (2015)
  • Subject: JA0071

Cosmopolitan thought in recent scholarship is often used in either a prescriptive or a descriptive manner. It is thus most commonly understood as a research agenda for the prescription of various ethico-political projects or a description of the social and political world beyond national frameworks. In both cases cosmopolitanism seems to be mostly understood as a set of assumptions about the social world. This thesis aims to underline cosmopolitanism’s critical characteristics and its capability to engage with the social world in a critical and therefore transformative manner. There has been relatively scarce scholarship on critical cosmopolitanism, a gap that the thesis closes by focusing on cosmopolitanism’s capacity for critical intervention. In this study, the contribution of cosmopolitanism to critical thought is evaluated and advanced. Possessing an unparalleled ability to understand things and change them in the light of universalism, cosmopolitanism can be explored as a kind of critical theory that has a distinct agenda and normative guidance. In order to achieve this, the thesis looks at a version of critical theory that is in certain respects most akin to cosmopolitanism, that is, Axel Honneth’s critical theory and his theory of recognition, and connects the two in a way that shows both the cosmopolitanism’s possession of critical heory’s main features and its differences from Honneth’s critical theory. It is proposed that cosmopolitanism can be regarded as a critical theory with the concept of recognition as its main framework, but also that it differs from Honneth’s theory in its understanding of world disclosure and holding to more universalist and utopian claims. While cosmopolitanism can be understood as being critical, it can also be used as an enhancement of the existing conceptualisation of recognition relationships through cosmopolitanism’s universalist dimensions.
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