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Alexandre Kojève (). Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Source: Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, Basic Books, ; the final chapter only. INTRODUCTION TO THE READING OF HEGEL LECTURES ON THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT ALEXANDRE KOJEVE During the years the. among contemporary left Hegelians none has been so influential as. Alexandre Kojeve, whose brilliant Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. ()’ is viewed as .

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He would have to be recognized by another Master. He must become other than what he if.

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel

The whole mass of ideas and concepts that have been current until now, introductioj very bonds of the world, are dis- solved and collapsing into themselves like a vision in a dream. Retrieved from ” https: In his philosophical anthropology, man is defined by introdiction negating activity, by his struggle to ijtroduction himself and nature through struggle and contestation. A hostile critic has given an accurate assessment of Kojeve’s influence: The Master is related in a medi- ated way to the Slave, viz.

For that idea to be a truth, it must reveal an objective reality — i. This manifestation is a double activity: And, by using the thought that arises from his Work, he forms the abstract notion of the Freedom that has been realized in him by this same Work.

Hegel no longer discusses because he benefits from the discussion of those who preceded him. But if this were the case, the realization and the revelation of the human being would be impossible.

Man is negating Action, which transforms given Being and, by transforming it, transforms itself. Like each of his contemporaries, Hegel was a microcosm, who incor- porated in his particular being the completed totality of the spatial- temporal realization of universal being.

With the readkng of Socratic philosophy, however, division and separation is introduced into thought – customary answers to questions of truth, morality, and reality are brought under suspicion.

Alexandre Kojève (1902—1968)

He has risked his life to be Master. It is by work in the Master’s service performed in terror that the Slave frees himself from the terror that enslaved him to the Master. Nature, transformed by the Slave’s Work, serves the Master, without his needing to serve it in turn.

Dialectic is but a method of philosophic research and exposition. Introductiin, the freedom that he creates in and by this act ot negation does not depend on the particular forms of the given. But it continues to be applied. To see this, let us analyze the relation from the Master’s point of view.


Humans desire to be valued by others, and the means of appropriating that valuation is intrlduction appropriation of the things introduxtion others themselves value; hence lifestyle and fashion become the mechanisms of mutual esteem in a post-historical world governed by the logic of capitalist individualism. But if to be a man is to be Oc, the Slave is not a man, and to be recog- nized by a Slave is not to be recognized by a man. To reach it, one must start from something other than contemplative knowledge of Being, other than its passive revelation, which leaves Being as it is in itself, independent of the knowledge that reveals it.

It is concerning the characterization of man at the end of history that one of the most intriguing difficulties in Kojeve’s teaching arises.

In this Note, he says the following: Hence individual values and needs would converge upon a common settlement in which a shared human nature comprising the desires and kojevf that define humanity as such would find its satisfaction. And if he has this faith, nothing will be so recal- citrant and hard as not to reveal itself to him.

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel – Wikipedia

He must overcome him “dialectically. Thanks to his work, he can become other; and, thanks to his work, the World can become other. Throughout this period, then, it is Mastery that will reveal its essence by realizing its existential possibilities through Action. Of course, in order to do this, he must fight against the Master, that is to say — precisely — he must cease to be a Slave, surmount his fear of death.

But it must also be said readinh Descartes— for reasons that Hegel explains— erred in answer- ing his initial question.

That is, to his real, natural bio- logical life he preferred something ideal, spiritual, nonbiological: And his intfoduction autonomy is the autonomy that he maintains in the social reality by the effort of that action.

The Master is only the “catalyst” of the History that will be realized, completed, and “revealed” by the Slave or the ex-Slave who has become a Citizen.

A Study of G. The more he is conscious of the thing, the less he is conscious of himself. At the beginning of this History, which ends finally in absolute Knowledge, there are, so to speak, the necessary ihtroduction sufficient conditions.

And here is why. Kojeve accomplished this revival of interest in Hegel not by adapting him to make him relevant, but by showing viii Editor’s Introduction that contemporary concerns are best understood in the permanent light of Hegel’s teaching.


From Heidegger, he takes the existentialist interpretation of human being as free, negative, and radically temporal.

How- ever, the insufficiency of the Slave is at the same time his perfec- tion: Hence, anthropogenetic Desire is different from animal Desire which produces a natural being, merely living and having only a sentiment of its life in that it is directed, not toward a real, “positive,” given object, but toward another Desire.

Indeed, the human being is formed only in terms of a Desire directed toward another Desire, that is — finally — in terms of a desire for recognition. What distinguishes Koj eve’s treatment of Hegel is the recogni- tion that for Hegel the primary concern is not the knowledge of anything outside himself — be it of nature or history — but knowl- edge of himself, that is, knowledge of what the philosopher is and how he can know what he knows.

Understanding, abstract thought, science, technique, the arts — all these, then, have their origin in the forced work of the Slave. To understand what absolute Knowledge is, to know how and why this Knowledge has become possible, one must therefore understand the whole of universal history.

Thus, this Being-for-itself exists in the slavish Consciousness. For each must raise his subjective-certainty of existing for self to the level of truth, both in the other and in himself. From Marx he takes a secularised, de-theologised, and productivist philosophical anthropology, one that places the transformative activity of a desiring being centre stage in the historical process.

And — subjec- tively — absolute Knowledge became possible because a man named Hegel was able to understand the World in which he lived and to understand himself as living in and understanding this World. Thus, an object per- fectly useless from the biological point of view such as a medal, or the enemy’s flag can be desired because it is the object of other desires.

Published in French under the title Introduction a la Lecture de Hegel 2d ed.