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Kant. Utopia e senso della storia: progresso, cosmopoli, pace.

Laura Tundo. Kant. Utopia e senso della storia: progresso, cosmopoli, pace. Bari: Edizioni Dedalo, 1998. 217 pp.

THE INTENTION of the Edizioni Dedalo's "Utopia" collection, edited by Arrigo Colombo, is to promote the advancement of "una societa giusta e fraterna" by attending to the notion of "l'utopia" in its "vero autentico senso": neither escapist nor fantastic, "l'utopia-eutopia (il senso gia inteso da Moro)" represents a vision of "la societa buona, la societa de giustizia (piu oltre la societa fraterna), il progetto che l'umanita persegue da sempre, nella condizione d'ingiustizia in cui giace; che anima i movimenti di salvezza, genera le rivoluzioni, il moderno processo di liberazione" (1). Laura Tundo's Kant, the fourteenth volume in the collection, works in a way that meshes very nicely with that editorial statement of purpose, conviction, and historical sense. "Utopia," as she remarks by way of introduction, is currently mistaken as an empty vision of "una condizione sociale e politica priva di concreta possibilita di realizzazione," and continues reductively to be construed as a flight ("una fuga") from the facts of history (8). Duly critical of a misapprehension at least as old as Marx, Tundo's study locates its subject within the "progetti etico-politici" progressively signed in writings from Plato, More, Harrington and Saint-Pierre, which are interpreted not as "sogni di menti esaltate" but as "modelli di costituzione ai quali e fatto dovere ai sovrani di approssimarsi" (13).

For all its emphasis on the pertinence of historical reading and the values of a savvy empiricism, though, this book does seem a tad all-too-ideal, even ahistorical, in its handling of matters of substantial sense and actual practice. The Socratic-style ironizing that seems evident enough in The Republic gets no play in Tundo's account of Plato's most politically influential book (9, 12, 13); nor does her aligning of Kant with More in "l'idea dell'umanita come legata a un processo di perfettibilita perseguiloile storicamente, vale a dire come indefinito avanzamento del processo di construzione di se dell'uomo" (13) seem adequately attentive to the wittiness of More's playing with words. The "happy place" or "eu-topos ... il luogo buono" (9) for More was surely neither in the here and now nor in any worldly or earthly future, however long or secularly indefinite. Christian scholar of the Greek and Latin classics More could hardly have occluded Icarus from the story of Dedalus. Nor, ironically enough, does Kant's oeuvre show a dominant concern with the matters of history: the fact that the author of the Prolegomena to Future Metaphysics came only very late in life to attend to a philosophy of "storia" adds additional piquancy to Tundo's case for Kant as the founding prophet and agent of such forces for cosmopolitanism and peace as the United Nations has come to represent (198).

Nonetheless, Tundo's Kant rings true (to this reader at least) in very many ways. First and foremost, it registers the meliorist intention basic to Utopian speculation, "la fiducia in un meglio per il futuro," "la speranza in un futuro migliore" (11, 98). And meliorists, since time memorial, have surely worked the middle ground between what is and what should or might be. As Tundo remarks, the whole of the "mature" Kant's enterprise issued from "due intenzioni: una giuridico-fattuale e una giuridico-utopica" (89). The lineaments of her portrait of Kant as middle-man negotiating between idea and sensation, materialism and idealism, between Plato and Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau (39, 89, e.g.), coordinate nicely with the rhetoric of her argument. "Da una parte ... d'altra parte," Tundo repeats time and time again (17, 25, 35, 36, 59, 69, 83, 90, 93, 158, 175, 174, 177, 186, 189, 200); and "tuttavia" or "nonostante" make their presence felt (9, 22, 23, 29, 35, 36, 40, 45, 52, 67, 79, 80, 87, 101,116, 122, 124, 125, 126, 129, 134, 137, 139, 142, 143, 145, 163, 164, 169, 172, 182, 197, 212, e.g.) in a way that assures balance in argument. Any reader who would disagree with such an argument would seem to be either unenlightened or unbalanced.

Like all the volumes issued by the Edizioni Dedalo, Kant. Utopia e senso della storia: progresso, cosmopoli, pace is elegantly produced.

Camille R. La Bossiere University of Ottawa
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:La Bossiere, Camille R.
Publication:Utopian Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1999
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