This is a preliminary argument of a much larger research project inquiring into the relation between Hegel’s philosophical system and the project of emancipation in Critical International Relations Theory. Specifically, the paper examines how Hegel’s theory of recognition gestures towards a form of radical cosmopolitanism in world politics to ensure the conditions of rational freedom for all humankind. Much of the paper is a ground-clearing exercise defining what is ‘living’ in Hegel’s thought for emancipatory approaches in world politics, to borrow from Croce’s now famous question. It focuses on Hegel’s unique concept of freedom which places recognition as central in the formation of self-consciousness and therefore as a key determinant in the conditions necessary for human freedom to emerge in political community. While further research is needed to ascertain the precise relationship between Hegel’s recognition theoretic, emancipation and cosmopolitanism, it is contended that the intersubjective basis of Hegel’s concept of freedom through recognition necessitates some form of radical cosmopolitanism that ensures successful processes of recognition between all peoples, the precise institutional form of which remains unspecified.