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Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape

Research Portal

Faculty of Law | University of the Western Cape


Perpetual peace: Derrida reading Kant

Publication title information

De Ville, Jacques (2019). 'Perpetual peace: Derrida reading Kant'. 32 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 335-357

Further detail

Publication type
Academic journal articles
Kant’s 1795 essay on perpetual peace has been lauded as one of his most important and influential political texts as well as one of the most important (modern) texts on peace. Kant’s text was largely forgotten until the 1980s and 1990s, with numerous commentaries appearing around the time of its 200 years existence. The French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s interest in Kant’s text appears to have arisen around the same time, and his analyses of this text continued after the turn of the century. The references to Kant’s essay in Derrida’s texts appear mostly in the context of a discussion of the concept of hospitality. The latter concept is understood by Derrida as including both (1) a demand for absolute hospitality, that is, hospitality without the imposition of any limitations, as well as (2) a demand, in the interests of survival, for such limitations or conditions. A negotiation between these dimensions of hospitality is ultimately required. The aim of this article is to elucidate Derrida’s analysis of Kant’s essay, specifically his recasting of the concept of peace as absolute hospitality, as well as to briefly outline its implications for international and cosmopolitan law.
About the author/s

Jacques de Ville

Prof Jacques de Ville is Dean of the Faculty of Law at UWC.

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