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Title: A breakdown of cosmopolitanism : self, state and nation
Author: Sokolowski, Asaf Zeev
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 0254
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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In this study in political theory I challenge the way in which national identity and liberalism are traditionally counterposed, by arguing that this opposition does not of existence rooted in time and space. On the proposed understanding, Locke’s position is a reaction to Hobbes’s demand for the complete surrender of individual particularity in exchange for an immutable state of perfect stability. It is argued that Locke appreciates the requirement of stability for generating future-oriented motivations in individuals, but exhibits a more humble approach to the human capacity to rule its own existence. The unbound autonomy to take charge of reality that Hobbes grants to humanity is replaced by a constrained ability to administer its existence within the corporeal confines of time and space. It is argued that the timespace constraints that Locke insists are metaphysically inherent to humankind, conflict with the boundary-free assumptions of cosmopolitanism. Conversely, it is maintained, Hobbes’s radical argument for dislodging humankind from spatiotemporal constraints serves as a platform for a cosmopolitan outlook, albeit a markedly authoritarian one. obtain in the work of one of the key figures in liberal thought, John Locke. This controversial assertion is supported by arguing that the conventional reading of Locke is tainted by Hobbesean preconceptions. Rejecting the view that Locke builds upon, or enhances, Hobbes’s position, this thesis instead maintains that Locke is replying to, and moreover divorcing himself from Hobbes. Thus Locke’s stance is portrayed as a distinctive and far more substantial contribution to political theory than he has traditionally been credited with. Furthermore, the distancing of Locke from Hobbes serves to expose the roots of the misconception of Locke’s political thought as a precursor of, and foundation for, a boundary-free cosmopolitanism. It is argued here that Locke’s political theory has become entangled with Hobbes’s due to a lack of attention to the formative relation between metaphysics and politics in their thought. This has obscured the metaphysical foundation of the social problem they are attempting to resolve, reducing it to the language of a clash of conflicting interests, so that the difference between their political prescriptions is presumed merely to echo the different degrees of potential conflict they observe, rather than being a substantive difference. The conventional framing of such conflict as a security problem, a concern for the harm of one’s person and possessions, is replaced here with that of an insecurity problem: an anxiety about the inability to identify regular rules that attach attributes, including possessions, to persons. In social terms, the future having not been secured, it cannot be trusted to connect with the past and present in a continuum. On the interpretation proposed here, Locke and Hobbes offer radically different measures for the artificial generation of this ‘continuum’. Their divergence concerns the degree of control they assume political solutions can exert over the social parallel of the metaphysical ‘continuum’ problem. It is maintained that Hobbes proposes to reverse the causes of anxiety about the future by artificially generating a constant environment, detached from the fluctuations inherent to a mode.
Supervisor: Keat, Russell. ; Dobson, Lynn. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Politics ; Nationalism ; Cosmopolitan ; Metaphysics ; Liberalism