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date: 26 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay traces intellectual developments behind some of the main forms of nationalism. It focuses on the ideas of a few highly reflective writers who discussed national issues in a general way, and who developed key concepts and arguments used in nationalist politics. Against the view that nationalism had no advocates among the greatest eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophers, I show that Rousseau, Herder, Fichte, Hegel, and Mill did offer powerfully reasoned arguments in defence of national values and politics. Some of nationalism’s early philosophical defenders were, however, also its most perceptive critics. They saw the formation of national states as a necessary, yet highly problematic, solution to problems of internal legitimacy and external defence.

Keywords: Constitution, criteria, defence, egalitarian, ethnic, independence, language, legitimacy, philosopher

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