Alla pace del cimitero: la recezione settecentesca di «Zum ewigen Frieden» e le fonti nascoste di un topos kantiano
When it first appeared in 1795, Kant’s famous essay Zum ewigen Frieden was either taken for a fervent pacifist appeal or interpreted as a manifesto of revolu- tionary propaganda in support of republican France. From the very beginning, where the ambiguous introductory motto is prosaically exemplified by the gloomy sign on a Dutch inn (‘At the Perpetual Peace’), the essay actually seems more like a warning than an auspice. Influenced by G.W. Leibniz, for whom a “perpetual peace is only conceivable among the dead”, and in veiled disagreement with the French Jacobins, who advocated a peaceful thousand-year reign after a war to destroy all enemies, Kant in fact expresses his fear that the longed-for “perpetual peace” may be transformed into the “eternal peace” of the cemetery, and in a vast mass grave for humanity.
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