This essay approaches cosmopolitanism from a perspective that stresses the moral and existential conditions of being human. Two quintessential qualities of being human are identified: kindness and forgiveness. The quality of kindness and the ability to forgive are at the root of the distinction between the personal or individual (as possessing these qualities) and the political (which can use or abuse them for pragmatic or practical ends). The essay opens with an eclectic historical contextualisation of the concept of cosmopolitanism and a brief overview of the aspects of existentialism that define the human as discussed here. Then it tackles the two perspectives on the sort of «human being» at issue: a transcendent being and a political person, arguing that sympathy as recognition of a fellow human being runs counter to ideas about nationalism and the practices of capitalist democracies based on policies of inclusion and exclusion determined by citizenship status. In opposition to Carl Schmitt, who maintained that to diminish the political was to diminish humanity, the essay considers the realm of humanity to be beyond politics. The power of political institutions is often expressed as the power to dehumanise. Drawing on the work of Agamben, it eventually asks how «bare life» devoid of the accoutrements of political status can be sufficient to maintain a moral concept of humanity.
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism; Self; Philosophical anthropology; Existentialism.