Kant’s essay Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan purpose differs in deep ways from standard Enlightenment views of human history. Although he agrees with many contemporaries that unsocial sociability can drive human progress, he argues that we know too little about the trends of history to offer either metaphysical defence or empirical vindication of the perfectibility of man or the inevitability of progress. However, as freely acting beings we can contribute to a better future, so have grounds for committing ourselves to human progress even if we cannot guarantee or know that it will continue indefinitely. As Kant sees, it, human progress is better seen as a practical assumption—an Idea of Reason—than as a theoretical claim.Keywords: Cosmopolitanism; Historical trends; Ideas of Reason; Immanuel Kant; Philosophy of history; Optimism; Pessimism; Progress; Unsocial sociability
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2008.09.005
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Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1998 [1787] - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.

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