Kant’s “Perpetual Peace” presented to peacebuilding associates (02/02/2017)

 Professor Hasegawa shared with the participants of training course commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Immanuel Kant`s understanding of the nature of human beings and the prospect for building “perpetual peace” among nation states.

 Fifteen Japanese peacebuilding associates and ten international government officials and experts from nine countries participated in the colloquium held with former Special Representative of Secretary-General of the United Nations, Professor Sukehiro Hasegawa. He first explained how German Philosopher Immanuel Kant brought about a Copernican revolution in the philosophical understanding of truth and proposed to construct perpetual peace.

 Kant postulated that the human mind creates the structure of human experience and the truth itself. This contrasted with the notion that any particular phenomenon and event exist regardless of how they are perceived by observers. Hasegawa explained that Kant furthermore argued that knowledge of any subject matter derived from both experience and reasoning as Kant asserted in his Critique of Pure Reason. For Kant, reason is the source of morality as set forth in his subsequent publication, the Critique of Practical Reason. Hasegawa indicated two important distinctions existed between a priori and a posteriori knowledge and between analytic and synthetic judgments. A posteriori knowledge is the particular knowledge we gain from experience, and a priori knowledge is knowledge we acquire independent of experience, such as our knowledge of mathematics.

 Hasegawa then introduced the conditions Kant set forth for securing perpetual peace among nation states. Noting that nation states behave as human beings do in pursuit of their own self-interest, they need to be governed by common or universal law of nations that should constitute the foundation of a world federation of states. Equality and fairness are essential as well as transparency in governance. In conclusion Hasegawa quoted Kissinger that “perpetual peace” would eventually be realized by human insight into what are essential for achieving perpetual peace or as a result of catastrophic war.