Alexandre Kojeve

From Philosopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Alexandre Kojeve (28 April 1902 - 4 June 1968)

Kojeve was a Russian-born French philosopher and statesman who was known for influencing French philosophers, particularly with his views about Hegel.

Akojeve6.jpg

See Wikipedia's biographical sketch that includes the following:

Though not a Marxist, Kojeve was known as an influential and idiosyncratic interpreter of [[Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel], reading him through the lens of both Karl Marx and Martin Heidegger. The well-known "End of History" thesis advanced the idea that ideological history in a limited sense had ended with the French Revolution and the regime of Napoleon and that there was no longer a need for violent struggle to establish the "rational supremacy of the regime of rights and equal recognition." Kojeve's End of History is more nuanced than Francis Fukayama's later thesis of the same name and points as much to a socialist-capitalist synthesis as to a triumph of liberal capitalism.
Some of Kojève's more important lectures on Hegel have been published in English in Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on Phenomenology of Spirit. Kojève's interpretation of Hegel has been one of the most influential of the past century. His lectures were attended by a small but influential group of intellectuals including Jean-Paul Sartre, Raymond Queneau, Georges Bataille, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, André Breton, Jacques Lacan and Raymond Aron. His interpretation of the master-slave dialectic was an important influence on Jacques Lacan's mirror stage theory.
Other French thinkers who have acknowledged his influence on their thought include the post-structuralist philosophers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. His most influential work was the now classic Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (Introduction à la lecture de Hegel, 1947), which summarized many of his lectures and included others in full.
Kojeve's correspondence with Leo Strauss has been published along with Kojève's critique of Strauss's commentary on Xenophon's Hiero (see below on their friendship and debate). In the 1950s, Kojève also met the rightist legal theorist (and former Nazi) Carl Schmitt, whose "Concept of the Political" he had implicitly criticized in his analysis of Hegel's text on "Lordship and Bondage." Another close friend was the Jesuit Hegelian philosopher Gaston Fessard.
In addition to his lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, Kojève published other articles and books, including a little noticed book on Kant, and articles on the relationship between Hegelian and Marxist thought and Christianity. His 1943 book, Esquisse d'une phenomenologie du droit, published posthumously in 1981, contrasts the aristocratic and bourgeois views of the right. Le Concept, le temps et le discours, extrapolates on the Hegelian notion that wisdom only becomes possible in the fullness of time. Kojève's response to Leo Strauss, who disputed this notion, can be found in Kojève's article "The Emperor Julian and his Art of Writing".
Kojève also challenged Strauss' interpretation of the classics in the voluminous Esquisse d'une histoire raisonnée de la pensée païenne, which covers the pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and Neoplatonism. Recently, three more books have been published: a 1932 thesis on the physical and philosophical importance of quantum physics, an extended 1931 essay on atheism ("L'athéisme"), and a 1943 work on "The Notion of Authority;" like "Le Concept, le temps et le discours" these have not been published in English translation.