Frontier: the border between two countries; the limits of civilization; the bounds of established knowledge; a new field of activity. At a time when all borders, boundaries, margins, and limits are being—often violently—challenged, erased, or reinforced, we must rethink the concept of frontier itself. But is there even such a concept? Through an original and imaginative reading of Kant, Geoffrey Bennington casts doubt upon the conceptual coherence of borders.
The frontier is the very element of Kant’s thought yet the permanent frustration of his conceptuality. Bennington brings out the frontier’s complex, abyssal, fractal structure that leaves a residue of violence in every frontier and complicates Kant’s most rational arguments in the direction of cosmopolitanism and perpetual peace.
Neither a critique of Kant nor a return to Kant, this book proposes a new reflection on philosophical reading, for which thinking the frontier is both essential and a recurrent, fruitful, interruption.
This is a magnificent, thrilling book. Bennington shows that the geopolitical vocabulary that pervades Kant’s critical system–frontiers, limits, borders boundaries, territories, battlefields–is not merely a analogy but rather the index of the essentially political nature of thought. His brilliant, gorgeous readings manage to negotiate the fragile boundary between Kant’s usually marginalized historical-political writings and the central problematic of the critical-transcendental project. The problems of philosophy cannot be cordoned off from the 'cosmopolitan' concerns of humanity. This is truly an achievement.
University of Toronto
Beyond meticulously describing the impasses around which Kant conducts what he sometimes calls his 'critical business,' Kant on the Frontier culminates in an analysis of the Critique of Teleological Judgment that is at once philologically exact and strikingly topical: here we encounter a thinker who, in seeking to erect impregnable borders, opens onto the 'abyss of judgment.