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Aleksandr Vladimirovič Koževnikov

Alexandre Kojève
Full name Aleksandr Vladimirovič Koževnikov
Born 28 April 1902(1902-04-28)
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died 4 June 1968 (aged 66)
Brussels, Belgium
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Hegelianism/Marxism
Main interests Idealism

Alexandre Kojève (Russian: Александр Владимирович Кожевников, Aleksandr Vladimirovič Koževnikov; April 28, 1902 – June 4, 1968) was a Russian Marxist-Hegelian philosopher and statesman whose philosophical seminars had an immense influence on twentieth-century French philosophy, and on his student the American philosopher Allan Bloom. As a statesman in the French government, he was instrumental in the creation of the European Union.



Kojève was born in Russia to a wealthy and influential family. He was educated in Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany. He completed his Ph.D., on the Russian religious philosopher Vladimir Soloviev's views on the union of God and man in Christ, under the direction of Karl Jaspers. Early influences included the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the historian of science Alexandre Koyré. Kojève spent most of his life in France, and in 1933-1939 he delivered in Paris a series of lectures on Hegel's work Phenomenology of Spirit. After World War II, Kojève worked in the French Ministry of Economic Affairs as one of the chief planners of the European Common Market.

Kojève was an extraordinarily learned man. It is said that he was fluent in Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan dialects as well as in French, German, Russian, English, Hebrew, Latin and classical Greek. He was interested in art, and corresponded with his uncle, the abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, about whose work he wrote an influential essay in 1936.

Kojève died in Brussels in 1968, shortly after giving a talk at the European Economic Community (now European Union) on behalf of the French government. In his later years he had repeatedly expressed the position that what had, in Marx's time and afterward, been known as a European proletariat, no longer existed, and the wealthy West sorely needed to help developing countries to overcome widespread poverty through large monetary gifts (in the mold of the Marshall Plan).


An idiosyncratic reader of Hegel through the lens of Marx and Heidegger, Kojève is best-known for his "End of History" thesis, which stated 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.[1][2]

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 intellectuals including 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 Introduction à la lecture de Hegel (1947), which summarized many of his lectures and included, in full, some others.

Kojève also had a close and lifelong friendship with Leo Strauss, who he first met as a student in Berlin; their correspondence has been published along with a critique Kojève wrote of Strauss's commentary on Xenophon.[3] The two shared a boundless philosophical respect for each other. Kojève would later write that, without befriending Strauss, "I never would have known[...] what philosophy is."[4] Several of Strauss's students were sent to Paris to study under Kojève in the 1950s and 1960s. Included in those was Allan Bloom, who endeavored during his lifetime to make Kojève's works available in English, and Stanley Rosen. 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 has published other articles and books in French, a book on Kant, and articles on the relationship between Hegelian and Marxist thought and Christianity. A book Kojève wrote in 1943 was published posthumously in 1981 by the French publisher Gallimard under the title Esquisse d'une phenomenologie du droit in which he contrasts the aristocratic and bourgeois views of right. Le Concept, le temps et le discours, also published by Gallimard, further extrapolate 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".[5] Kojève also challenged Strauss' interpretation of the classics in the voluminous book Esquisse d'une histoire raisonnée de la pensée païenne, that includes one volume on the pre-Socratic philosophers, one on Plato and Aristotle, and one on Neoplatonism. His posthumously published book on Immanuel Kant received little attention. 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.

Kojève and the USSR

In 1999 Le Monde published an article reporting that a French intelligence document showed that Kojève had spied for the Soviets for over 30 years. The claims of this document (and even its existence) are disputed, and it has never been released. Kojève's supporters tend to believe that if it were true, it was probably unsubstantial as spying per se and a result of his megalomaniacal personality, a pretense to be a philosopher at the end of history influencing the course of world events.

In any case, Kojève's contribution to international French economic policy was more than substantial. Though Kojève often claimed to be a "Stalinist", he largely regarded the Soviet Union with contempt, calling its social policies disastrous and its claims to be a truly classless state ludicrous. (Kojève's cynicism towards traditional Marxism as an outmoded philosophy in industrially well-developed capitalist nations prompted him to go as far idiosyncratically referring to capitalist Henry Ford as "the one great authentic Marxist of the twentieth century."[6]) He specifically and repeatedly called it the only existing country in which 19th-century capitalism still existed. His "Stalinism" was ironic to the extent Stalin had no political chance to lead the Weltgeist; yet, he was serious about Stalinism to the extent that he regarded the utopia of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the willingness to purge unsupportive elements in the population, as evidence of a desire to bring about the end of history, and as a repetition of the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution.


  • Alexandre Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Outline of a Phenomenology of Right, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000.
  • Alexandre Kojève, "The Emperor Julian and His Art of Writing", in Joseph Cropsey, Ancients and Moderns; Essays on the Tradition of Political Philosophy in Honor of Leo Strauss, New York: Basic Books, p. 95-113, 1964.
  • Alexandre Kojève, "Tyranny and Wisdom", in Leo Strauss, On Tyranny - Revised and Expanded Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 135-176, 2000.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Esquisse d’une doctrine de la politique française (27.8.1945). Publicated in La regle du jeu 1 (1990). English translation by Erik De Vries: Outline of a Doctrine of French Policy. In Policy Review 2004, p. 3-40, online [1].
  • Alexandre Kojève, Düsseldorfer Vortrag: Kolonialismus in europäischer Sicht. In: Piet Tommissen (Hg.): Schmittiana. Beiträge zu Leben und Werk Carl Schmitts. Band 6, Berlin 1998, S. 126-143. English translation and comment, incl. Schmitt-Kojève correspondence: Erik De Vries: Alexandre Kojève — Carl Schmitt Correspondence and Alexandre Kojève, "Colonialism from a European Perspective". In: Interpretation, 29/1 (2001), p. 91-130.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Essau d'une historie raissonee de la philosophie paienne. Tome 1-3. Paris, 1968; 1997.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Kant. Paris, 1973.
  • Alexandre Kojève, L'idee du determinisme dans la physique classique et dans la physique moderne. Paris, 1990.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Le concept, le temps et le discours. Paris, 1991.
  • Alexandre Kojève, L'empereur Julien et son art d'ecrire. Paris, 1997.
  • Alexandre Kojève, Les peintures concrètes de Kandinsky. Paris, 2002 (1936).
  • Alexandre Kojève, La notion d'authorite. Paris, 2004.
  • Alexandre Kojève et Auffret D., L'idee de determinisme dans la physique lassique et dans la physique modern. Paris, 1990.
  • Alexandre Kojève et Bibard L. L'atheisme. Paris, 1998.


  1. ^ Kojeve, Alexandre (Spring 1980), ""Capitalisme et socialisme: Marx est Dieu; Ford est son prophète." ("Capitalism and socialism : Marx is God; Ford is his prophet")", Commentaire 9  
  2. ^ Howse, Robert (2004), "Kojeve's Latin Empire", Policy Review (126), ISSN 0146-5945,, retrieved 2008-04-14, "The End of History does not itself resolve the tension within the idea of equality — the ideal of equal recognition that is rationally victorious with the End of History embodies elements of market justice, equal opportunity, and "equivalence" in exchange (the "bourgeois" dimension of the French Revolution). But it also contains within it a socialist or social democratic conception of equality of civic status, implying social regulation, welfare rights, and the like."  
  3. ^ Strauss, Leo, Gourevitch, Victor; Roth, Michael S., eds., On Tyranny  
  4. ^ Lilla, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics: p.131.
  5. ^ published in Cropsey, Joseph, ed. (1964), Ancients and Moderns: Essays on the Tradition of Political Philosophy in Honor of Leo Strauss, Basic Books  , as well as in the above-mentioned edition of Strauss's On Tyranny
  6. ^ Nichols, James H. Alexandre Kojève: Wisdom at the End of History. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. ISBN 0742527778, ISBN 9780742527775. P. 90.

Further reading

  • Agamben, Giorgio (2004), The open: Man and Animal, Stanford: Stanford University Press, ISBN 0804747377  
  • Anderson, Perry (1992), "The Ends of History", A Zone of Engagement, New York: Verso, pp. 279–375, ISBN 0860913775  
  • Auffret, D. (2002), Alexandre Kojeve. La philosophie, l'Etat, la fin de l'histoire, Paris: B. Grasset, ISBN 2246398711  
  • Butler, Judith (1987), Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France, New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0231064500  
  • Cooper, Barry (1984), The End of History: An Essay on Modern Hegelianism, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, ISBN 0802056253  
  • Darby, Tom (1982), The Feast: Meditations on Politics and Time, Toronto: Toronto University Press, ISBN 0802055788  
  • Devlin, F. Roger (2004), Alexandre Kojeve and the Outcome of Modern Thought, Lanham: University Press of America, ISBN 0761829598  
  • Drury, Shadia B. (1994), Alexandre Kojeve: The Roots of Postmodern Politics, New York: St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312120893  
  • Fukuyama, Francis (1992), The End of History and the Last Man, New York: Macmillan, ISBN 0029109752  
  • Kleinberg, Ethan (2005), Generation Existential: Heidegger's Philosophy in France, 1927-1961, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, ISBN 0801443911  
  • Lilla, Mark (2001), "Alexandre Kojève", The Reckless Mind. Intellectuals in Politics, New York: New York Review Books, ISBN 0940322765  
  • Niethammer, Lutz (1992), Posthistoire: Has History Come to an End?, New York: Verso, ISBN 0860913953  
  • Roth, Michael S. (1988), Knowing and History: Appropriations of Hegel in Twentieth-Century France, Ithaca: Cornell, ISBN 0801421365  
  • Rosen, Stanley (1987), "Hermeneutics as Politics", Hermeneutics as Politics, New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 87–140, ISBN 019504908X  
  • Singh, Aakash (2005), Eros Turannos: Leo Strauss & Alexandre Kojeve Debate on Tyranny, Lanham: University Press of America, ISBN 0761832599  
  • Strauss, Leo (2000), On Tyranny (Rev. and expanded ed.), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0226776875  

External links



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