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Cosmopolitanism is the idea that all human beings are members of a single community. Its adherents are known as cosmopolitan or cosmopolite. Cosmopolitanism is both prescriptive and aspirational, believing humans can and should be "world citizens" in a "universal community".[1] The idea encompasses different dimensions and avenues of community, such as promoting universal moral standards, establishing global political structures, or developing a platform for mutual cultural expression and tolerance.


The word derives from the Ancient Greek: κοσμοπολίτης, or kosmopolitês, formed from "κόσμος", kosmos, i.e. "world", "universe", or "cosmos", and πολίτης, "politês", i.e. "citizen" or "[one] of a city". Contemporary usage defines the term as "citizen of the world".

Definitions of cosmopolitanism usually begin with the Greek etymology of "citizen of the world". However, as Appiah points out, "world" in the original sense meant "cosmos" or "universe", not earth or globe as current use assumes.

In the United States two forms of cosmopolitanism have established. For one, there is a political cosmopolitan nationalism that has defined and constructed other races. On the other hand, ethno-cultural cosmopolitanism that celebrates multiculturalism has seen an upswing in the United States after World War II. A definition of cosmopolitanism that handles this issue is given in a recent book on political globalization:

Cosmopolitanism can be defined as a global politics that, firstly, projects a sociality of common political engagement among all human beings across the globe, and, secondly, suggests that this sociality should be either ethically or organizationally privileged over other forms of sociality.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi in preserved scripts said that "universal love and mutual benefit" could be attained "to regard other people's countries as one's own". The Chinese term tianxia (all under Heaven), a metonym for empire, has also been re-interpreted in the modern age as a conception of cosmopolitanism, and was used by 1930s modernists as the title of a Shanghai-based, English-language journal of world arts and letters T'ien Hsia Monthly.

Philosophical roots

Cosmopolitanism can be traced back to Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 B.C.), the founder of the Cynic movement in Ancient Greece. It was said that when Diogenes was "Asked where he came from, he answered: 'I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)'". At the time, the broadest basis of social identity among Greeks was either the individual city-state or the culturally and linguistically homogenous Hellenic group.

Stoicism, another Greek school of thought that was founded roughly a century later, built upon Diogenes' idea, with many of its thinkers and adherents stressing that each human being "dwells [...] in two communities – the local community of our birth, and the community of human argument and aspiration". A common way to understand Stoic cosmopolitanism is through Hierocles' circle model of identity, which states that individuals should regard themselves as concentric circles: the first one around the self, followed by immediate family, extended family, local group, citizens, countrymen, humanity. Within these circles human beings feel a sense of "affinity" or "endearment" towards others, which the Stoics termed Oikeiôsis. The task of world citizens becomes then to "draw the circles somehow towards the centre, making all human beings more like our fellow city dwellers, and so forth".

Modern cosmopolitan thinkers

In his 1795 essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch, Immanuel Kant stages a ius cosmopoliticum (cosmopolitan law/right) as a guiding principle to help global society achieve permanent, enduring peace. Kant's cosmopolitan right stems from an understanding of all human beings as equal members of a universal community. Cosmopolitan right thus works in tandem with international political rights, and the shared, universal right of humanity.

Kant's cosmopolitan right is fundamentally bound to the conditions of universal hospitality and the right of resort. Universal hospitality is defined as the right to be welcomed upon arrival in foreign territory, but is contingent on a guest arriving in a peaceful manner. Kant makes the additional claim that all human beings have the basic right of resort: the right to present oneself in a foreign land. The right of resort is derived from Kant's understanding of the Earth's surface as essentially communal, and further emphasizing his claims on equally shared universal rights among all human beings.

The philosophical concepts of Emmanuel Levinas, on ethics, and Jacques Derrida, on hospitality, provide a theoretical framework for the relationships between people in their everyday lives and apart from any form of written laws or codes. For Levinas, the foundation of ethics consists in the obligation to respond to the Other. In Being for the Other, he writes that there is no "universal moral law," only the sense of responsibility (goodness, mercy, charity) that the Other, in a state of vulnerability, calls forth. The proximity of the Other is an important part of Levinas's concept: the face of the Other is what compels the response.

For Derrida, the foundation of ethics is hospitality, the readiness and the inclination to welcome the Other into one's home. Ethics, he claims, is hospitality. Pure, unconditional hospitality is a desire that underscores the conditional hospitality necessary in our relationships with others. Levinas's and Derrida's theories of ethics and hospitality hold out the possibility of an acceptance of the Other as different but of equal standing. Isolation is not a feasible alternative in the world, therefore, it is important to consider how best to approach these interactions, and to determine what is at stake for ourselves and the others: what conditions of hospitality to impose, and whether or not we have responded to the call of the Other. Further, both theories reveal the importance of considering how best to interact with the Other and others, and what is at stake.

Derrida in an interview with Bennington (1997) summarized "cosmopolitanism",

There is a tradition of cosmopolitanism, and if we had time we could study this tradition, which comes to us from, on the one hand, Greek thought with the Stoics, who have a concept of the 'citizen of the world'. You also have St. Paul in the Christian tradition, also a certain call for a citizen of the world as, precisely, a brother. St. Paul says that we are all brothers, that is sons of God, so we are not foreigners, we belong to the world as citizens of the world; and it is this tradition that we could follow up until Kant for instance, in whose concept of cosmopolitanism we find the conditions for hospitality. But in the concept of the cosmopolitical in Kant there are a number of conditions: first of all you should, of course, welcome the stranger, the foreigner, to the extent that he is a citizen of another country, that you grant him the right to visit and not to stay, and there are a number of other conditions that I can't summarise here quickly, but this concept of the cosmopolitical which is very novel, very worthy of respect (and I think cosmopolitanism is a very good thing), is a very limited concept. (Derrida cited in Bennington 1997). — 

A further state of cosmopolitanism occurred after the Second World War. As a reaction to the Holocaust and other atrocities, the concept of crimes against humanity became a generally accepted category in international law. This clearly shows the appearance and acceptance of a notion of individual responsibility that is considered to exist toward all of humankind.

Philosophical cosmopolitans are moral universalists: they believe that all humans, and not merely compatriots or fellow-citizens, come under the same moral standards. The boundaries between nations, states, cultures or societies are therefore morally irrelevant. A widely cited example of a contemporary cosmopolitan is Kwame Anthony Appiah. Kwame Anthony Appiah articulates a cosmopolitan community where individuals from varying locations (physical, economic, etc.) enter relationships of mutual respect despite their differing beliefs (religious, political, etc.). In a looser but related sense, "cosmopolitan" is also used to describe places where people of various ethnic, cultural and/or religious backgrounds live together and interact with each other.

Some philosophers and scholars argue that the objective and subjective conditions arising in today's unique historical moment, an emerging planetary phase of civilization, creates a latent potential for the emergence of a cosmopolitan identity as global citizens and possible formation of a global citizens movement. These emerging objective and subjective conditions in the planetary phase include improved and affordable telecommunications; space travel and the first images of our fragile planet floating in the vastness of space; the emergence of global warming and other ecological threats to our collective existence; new global institutions such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization, or International Criminal Court; the rise of transnational corporations and integration of markets often termed economic globalization; the emergence of global NGOs and transnational social movements, such as the World Social Forum; and so on. Globalization, a more common term, typically refers more narrowly to the economic and trade relations and misses the broader cultural, social, political, environmental, demographic, values and knowledge transitions taking place.[


For example, Kwame Anthony Appiah articulates a cosmopolitan community where individuals from varying locations (physical, economic, etc.) enter relationships of mutual respect despite their differing beliefs (religious, political, etc.). In a looser but related sense, "cosmopolitan" is also used to describe places where people of various ethnic, cultural and/or religious backgrounds live together and interact with each other.

How to Draw

Flag of Cosmopolitanism
  1. Draw a ball
  2. Fill the ball in dark red.
  3. Draw a tussock-colored martini glass in the middle of the ball.
  4. Draw a tussock-colored globe inside of the glass.
  5. Draw 2 eyes and you're done!
Color Name HEX RGB
Dark red #A00201 160, 2, 1
Tussock #BE9D42 190, 157, 66



  • Marxism - I appreciate his attitude regarding global workers.
  • Trotskyism - World communism? Very nice.
  • Progressivism & Neoliberalism - I like to eat tacos and curry with them.
  • World Federalism - A united global country were all citizens are equal? Sign me up.
  • Multiculturalism - I'll admit you do somewhat encourage self-segregationist tendencies at times, but you're still a pretty good guy.
  • Christian Theocracy - "Here is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." Galatians 3:28-29


  • Globalism - Way too intense for me sometimes.
  • Pan-Nationalism - The only form of nationalism I actually kinda like.
  • Civic Nationalism - Another form of nationalism that isn't that bad. At least he isn't chauvinistic and is willing to accept foreigners and international co-operation. Just please focus less on your country and we're good.
  • Cultural Nationalism - You need to focus on protecting cultures of all countries and not just your country's culture.
  • Eco-Nationalism - Environmental protection is important, but you need to focus more on protecting the environment of the whole world and not just your own.
  • Economic Nationalism - A healthy economy is important, but you need to focus more on making the world's economy healthy and not just protect your economy from foreigners you don't like.
  • Left-Wing Nationalism - Your focus on improving workers' rights is based, but you need to focus on improving the rights of workers around the world as well.
  • National Progressivism - Cultural progress is based, but cultural progressive values needs to spread around the world.
  • Patriotism - Meh. You're not outright tribalistic, just really smug and annoying a lot of the time, which is still better than regular nationalism I guess.
  • Canadian Liberalism - You like to talk about making the first "postnational state", yet a lot of you have some incredibly blind nationalistic tendencies. Seriously, that cultural protectionism crap is pretty cringe.
  • Interculturalism - Some of you guys are incredibly based, but other times you can be pretty nationalistic and more focused on assimilation than proper integration. We undoubtedly need unity but immigrants shouldn't be pressured to completely assimilate if they don't want to.
  • European Federalism - You have the potential to make a truly amazing impact on the world, you really do, it's just that you're often pretty clumsy as you are currently.


Further Information

Wikipedia Articles