When the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope coins the term ‘cosmopolitan,’ he invites an expansive understanding of the ethical and political commitments one should endeavor to challenge and uphold. Whereas the politics of the day privileged one’s status and role in the polis as foundational for rights, entitlements, duties, and allegiances, the cosmopolitan perspective highlights the arbitrary nature of political boundaries and benefits. This permits virtue, nature, and reason to supplant law and custom as the standards for judgment. After grounding the invention of cosmopolitanism in its political and ethical context, this paper explores what is salient in the notion by attending to it in its own right and as a foil for a different kind of ethically driven political structure, here represented by Plato’s kallipolis.
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