Soraya Nour Sckell
The Cosmos of Alexander von Humboldt from a Cosmopolitan Perspective
Abstract 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.
Keywords Alexander von Humboldt; cosmos; cosmopolitanism