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Title: Critical exposition of ‘human nature’ in kant’s Perpetual peace
Other Titles: Philosophical Papers, Journal of the Department of Philosophy, Vol. XVIII, March- 2022, pp- 55-62
Authors: Shukla, Prashant
Keywords: World Republic
State of Peace
Human Nature
Categorical Imperative
Divine Providence
Issue Date: Mar-2022
Publisher: University of North Bengal
Abstract: A detailed description of the grand vision for ‘world peace’ has been presented in Immanuel Kant’s 200 year old essay Perpetual Peace. Due credit is attributed to this seminal work on account of the lasting impact it made on peace studies, the conception of the United Nations and the realization of a new world-order based on everlasting peace. It is, however, to be noted here that the temporary conclusion is not about ‘what will be’ and ‘how it can be realized’, rather about ‘what ought to be’. This objective is tentatively, though not conclusively, made in the very First Supplement of this work. Kant, here, doesn’t give a description of the preconditions for acquisition of everlasting peace, but gets engaged in the issues pertaining the underlying rationale and justification of the entire enterprise. With this context, the present paper proposes to have a closer look at the following questions: the notion, pervasive throughout Perpetual Peace, that ‘human nature is necessarily evil’ (the state of nature is the state of war); the notion that ‘Nature, standing in for a divine Providence, employs the very inclinations that push people to make war guides them further towards eventual peace; and the possibility and desirability of going beyond a loose league of nations and achieve and integrated ‘world republic’. Throughout his essay (and some of his other writings), Kant builds on this assumption that human nature is evil or ‘dissolute’, a significant exodus from Rousseau’s position . Experts presume that Kant borrowed this pessimistic view from Hobbes and it is an undeniable fact that this position recalls his English predecessor’s state of nature as a ‘war of all against all’ (bellum omnium contra omnes, Leviathan, 1651). It is also true that Kant mentions Hobbes occasionally, but not necessarily in an approving way. If Kant rejects Hobbes’ suggested solution of ‘coercive rights’ (of the sovereign) unduly brutal, it is first of all because his understanding of the state of things is fundamentally different. Kant’s exposition of the ‘fallen human nature’ in his Religion Within the Bounds of Bare Reason is indispensable to be read if one is to comprehend how he believes that a decisive step can be taken toward a ‘state of peace’. Here, he clearly conveys his belief in human beings’ implicit proclivity to do evil, while at the same time being conscious of the categorical imperative to do what is right. In Religion as well as in Perpetual Peace, Kant’s declarations are very close to the Biblical verses.
ISSN: 0976-4496
Appears in Collections:Philosophical Papers. Vol 18 (March 2022)

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