The Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt from a Cosmopolitan Perspective

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The aim of this text is to ask, with Humboldt, how the ethics of nature and social life, the cosmos (the relationship between things, the forces of nature and the whole) and cosmopolitanism (the relationship between human beings) are intrinsically correlated. In the first part of this paper, which focuses on the notion of the cosmos, I want to analyze this intrinsic relation between the cosmos and cosmopolitanism first by appreciating that there is freedom, history, and dignity in nature, then by considering the resulting ecological paradigm, and finally, through apprehending the beauty of nature. In the second part, which centers on the notion of cosmopolitanism, this relationship is analyzed first through Humboldt’s critique of colonialism, then through his criticism of cul­tural domination, and finally, via his conception of humanity. This will demonstrate the relevance of Humboldt’s project for the present day.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKosmos
Subtitle of host publicationVom Umgang mit der Welt zwischen Ausdruck und Ordnung
EditorsPeter König , Oliver Schlaudt
PublisherHeidelberg University Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783968220932
ISBN (Print)9783968220949
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Alexander von Humboldt
  • Cosmos
  • Cosmopolitanism


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