5/7 Ross Jacobs presents on the contemporary relevance of Kant’s political philosophy

The paper will re-articulate and defend Immanuel Kant’s international political thought against the criticism by Leo Strauss in his 1935  anti-Kantian work Philosophy and Law. More generally, I seek to bring the international political thought of Kant into conversation with research on under-explored philosophical and theological-political resources within the traditions of contemporary democratic theory, philosophy, and theology. I argue that Kant’s critique of Sino-Russian authoritarianism needs to be brought back into the conversation if we are to defend Kant from those, like Strauss, who seek to caricature his politics. Thus this paper aims to initiate the project of re-writing the philosophy of history contested by many leading Euro-American “scholar-prophets of social justice”  in order to re-cultivate receptivity to Immanuel Kant’s theory of international democratic peace as it finds expression in “Perpetual Peace” and the “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim. In the end, I will argue that Strauss ‘s anti-Kantianism is indicative of an overwhelming sympathy to what Charles Taylor critiques as the “radical enlightenment” and an over-exposure to the highly problematic claims of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger. These facts may render, I suggest,  Leo Strauss’ corpus un-worthy of serving what Michael Sandel has called America’s “public philosophy.”

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