A Cosmopolitan Handbook: On the Ecology of Languages and the Force of Poetic Epidemics
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This dissertation looks at alternative ways in which time is poeticized through ethical discourse. Here, the ethical imaginaries of Immanuel Kant, Aristippus the Cyrenaic, and Sidi al Mukhtar al Kunti are imaginal watersheds in the sense that each consolidated a poetic bloom of ethical and political imaginaries. Their impact on political life is conceived through the distributive tendencies for violence that these poetics help configure. The poetic epidemics which these authors’ works consolidated and distributed in the form of international ethical thought constituted poetic epidemics in cosmopolitanism because of their linking of ethics to an international space. Immanuel Kant was an 18th century German philosopher writing in Konigsberg and theorist of international constitutionalism who required a Newtonian poetics of objectile political units coupled with a teleological vision of singular historical progression to articulate his vision of international peace as emerging through conflict in the present. Aristippus was a Socratic philosopher from Cyrene whose hedonism pre-dated Epicurus and bears a very different epistemology and ethics from both that of the Epicurians and of the Skeptics. The Cyrenaic school emphasized the pathae as central to both epistemological and ethical focus and considered objects as having an inapprehensible quality. Their movement traversed the Mediterranean well into the Roman age. Sidi al Mukhtar al Kunti was a multilingual ethicist writing in 18th century West Africa; his philosophy attracted a following across an international landscape as vast as Western Europe. He brokered several peace agreements and was known for this in his time. His manuscript on diplomacy serves as a poetic watershed for the imaginal and poetic work that went into forging his movement and the peaces that it enacted. Central to al Kunti’s theory of diplomacy is a theory of mind and of the multiple temporalities of ambitious political selves. Lastly the dissertation delves into the temporal and ethical imaginaries of Plotinus, Augustine and Sophocles as interludes which serve to illuminate the scene.