This lecture sketches the outline of a contemporary notion of cosmopolitanism that abandons the universalistic posture and the rationalistic assumptions of the classical notion of this term. How can we re-think a planetary or pan-human dimension in today’s interdependent and globalised world, while accounting for wars, increasing xenophobia, humanitarian disasters and other abuses of power? The central hypothesis of the lecture is that we need to review accepted conventions about the self and identity in order to introduce more complexity into this discussion.
This lecture was given within the framework of the 2012 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘Risk Societies and Cosmopolitanism’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of cross-national European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Cosmopolitanism and risk society, Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility, and Cosmopolitanism and the civic duty of Digital Media.