The word ‘cosmopolitan’, which derives from the Greek word kosmopolitês (‘citizen of the world’), has been used to describe a wide variety of important views in moral and socio-political philosophy. The nebulous core shared by all cosmopolitan views is the idea that all human beings, regardless of their political affiliation, do (or at least can) belong to a single community, and that this community should be cultivated. Different versions of cosmopolitanism envision this community in different ways, some focusing on political institutions, others on moral norms or relationships, and still others focusing on shared markets or forms of cultural expression. The philosophical interest in cosmopolitanism lies in its challenge to commonly recognized attachments to fellow-citizens, the local state, parochially shared cultures,
The political culture idealized in the writings of Plato and Aristotle is not cosmopolitan. In this culture, a man identifies himself first and foremost as a citizen of a particular polis or city, and in doing so, he signals which institutions and which body of people hold his allegiance. He would then be counted on for help in defending the city from attacks, sustaining its institutions of justice, and contributing to its common good.Any cosmopolitan expectations on a good Athenian extended only to concern for those foreigners who happen to reside in Athens.
Actively excluding foreigners from any ethical consideration or actively targeting foreigners for mistreatment goes one step beyond focusing one's service and concern on compatriots, and in fact, the targeting of ‘barbarians’ is historically linked with the rise of panhellenism and not with the more narrow emphasis on the polis. It would be more accurate to call the Classical emphasis on the polis uncosmopolitan.
The historical context of the philosophical resurgence of cosmopolitanism during the Enlightenment is made up of many factors: The increasing rise of...