SECRET ARTICLE FOR PERPETUAL PEACE
A secret article in contracts under public law is objectively, i.e., from
the standpoint of its content, a contradiction. Subjectively, however, a secret
clause can be present in them, because the persons who dictate it might find it
compromising to their dignity to declare openly that they are its authors.
The only article of this kind is contained in the statement: "The
opinions of philosophers on the conditions of the possibility of public peace
shall be consulted by those states armed for war."
But it appears humiliating to the legislative authority of a state, to whom
we must naturally attribute the utmost wisdom, to seek instruction from
subjects (the philosophers) on principles of conduct toward other states. It is
nevertheless very advisable to do so. Therefore, the state tacitly and secretly
invites them to give their opinions, that is, the state will let them publicly
and freely talk about the general maxims of warfare and of the establishment of
peace (for they will do that of themselves, provided they are not forbidden to
do so). It does not require a particular convention among states to see that
this is done, since their agreement on this point lies in an obligation already
established by universal human reason which is morally legislative.
I do not mean that the state should give the principles of philosophers any
preference over the decisions of lawyers (the representatives of the state
power); I only ask that they be given a hearing. The lawyer, who has made not
only the scales of right but also the sword of justice his symbol, generally
uses the latter not merely to keep back all foreign influences from the former,
but, if the scale does not sink the way he wishes, he also throws the sword
into it (vae victis), a practice to which he often has the greatest
temptation because he is not also a philosopher, even in morality. His office
is only to apply positive laws, not to inquire whether they might not need
improvement. The administrative function, which is the lower one in his
faculty, he counts as the higher because it is invested with power (as is the
case also with the other faculties). The philosophical faculty occupies a very
low rank against this allied power. Thus it is said of philosophy, for example,
that she is the handmaiden to theology, and the other faculties claim as much.
But one does not see distinctly whether she precedes her mistress with a
flambeau or follows bearing her train.
That kings should philosophize or philosophers become kings is not to be
expected. Nor is it to be wished, since the possession of power inevitably
corrupts the untrammeled judgment of reason. But kings or kinglike peoples
which rule themselves under laws of equality should not suffer the class of
philosophers to disappear or to be silent, but should let them speak openly.
This is indispensable to the enlightenment of the business of government, and,
since the class of philosophers is by nature incapable of plotting and
lobbying, it is above suspicion of being made up of propagandists.
Main Document, "Perpetual Peace"
First Supplement, "Secret Article for Perpetual
Appendix I, "On the Opposition Between Morality
and Politics With Respect to Perpetual Peace"
Appendix II, "Of the Harmony Which the
Transcendental Concept of Public Right Established Between Morality and
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