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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This real, or better, active, historical dialectic is what is reflected in the history introductioh philosophy. Absolute Knowledge became — objectively— possible because in and by Napoleon the real process of historical evolution, in the course of which man created new Worlds and transformed him- self by creating them, came to its end.

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He would have to be recognized by another Master.

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, Lectures on the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’

Historically, this task of reconciliation has been embodied in many forms – in art, ijtroduction religion, and in philosophy. He can be killed; he cannot be trans- formed, educated. Moreover, this forced relation of recognition remains thoroughly incomplete, since the ‘slave’ is not in a position to grant affirmation freelybut is compelled to do so due to his subordination.

The Slave, on the other hand, did not want to be a Slave. Therefore, its continuation in existence will signify for this I: They are autonomous con- crete-forms, Consciousnesses submerged in the given-being of animal-life.

Like- wise, the Master is related in a mediated ivay to introductoon thing, viz.

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel – Wikipedia

And the origin of this absolute negation can only be the absolute dread inspired by the given World, or more precisely, by that which, or by him who, dominates this World, by the Master of this World. Work is Time, and that is why it necessarily exists in time: Kojeve is the unknown Superior whose dogma is revered, often unawares, by that important subdivision of the “animal kingdom of the spirit” in the contemporary world — the progressivist intellec- tuals.


In fear, Being-for-itself [already] exists in the slavish Consciousness itself. Since the Master transcends the given World only in and by the risk of his life, it is only his death that “realizes” his freedom.

History is the history of jhe work i ng Slave.

Rdading, to know this, to know that he is the thinker who can realize the absolute Science, he must know that the Napoleonic Wars realize the dialectical synthesis of the Master and the Slave. The autonomous Consciousness existing for itself is hence, for it, the truth [or a revealed reality], which, however, for it, does not yet exist in it.

Alexandre Kojève (1902—1968)

However, this relation is doomed to failure, for two fundamental reasons. For Hegel, the historical movement of thought is a ‘dialectical’ process wherein these divisions are put through processes of reconciliation, producing in turn new divisions, which thought in turn attempts to reconcile. The abandoned philosophy of nature may well be a necessary cosmic support for Hegel’s human, historical teach- ing. However, scientific experience and knowledge are concerned with the Object as independent of and isolated from the Subject.

But in fact, this is not at all the case. The transformation of the Slave, which will allow him to surmount his dread, his fear of the Master, by surmounting the terror of death — this trans- formation is long and painful.

Introduction to the Reading of Hegel

It is the slave’s unwillingness to accept death, in readong with the Master, that leads to their unequal relationship.

The Master can be satisfied only in and by death, his death or the death of his adversary. Hence, he is recognized by someone whom he does not recognize. The Master appears only for the sake of engendering the Slave who “over- comes” aufhebt him as Master, while thereby “overcoming” himself as Slave.


In fact, Man can be satisfied only by action. Hegel no longer discusses because he benefits from the discussion of those who preceded him.

There are no more battles to be fought, no more experiments in social engineering to be attempted; the world has arrived at a homogenised state in which the combination of capitalism and liberal democracy will reign supreme, and all other cultural and ideological systems will be consigned irretrievably to the past. If History must be completed, if absolute Knowledge must oojeve possible, it is only the Slave who can do it, by attaining Satis- faction.

If idle Mastery is an impasse, laborious Slavery, in contrast, is the source of all human, social, historical progress. This page was last edited on 7 Decemberat Thus Hegel sees the key to historical reconciliation lying in the rational realisation of underlying unity, a unity that can, in time, come to connect individuals with each other and with the world in which they live.

But it must also be said that Descartes— for reasons that Hegel explains— erred in answer- ing his initial question. Now, the free act is by definition “undeducible ” Here then, we have what is indeed an absolute premise. And since this other, if he is or more exactly, if he wants to be, and believes himself to be a human being, must himself do the same thing, the “first” an- thropogenetic action ne cessarily t akes the form of a fight: