Kojève, Alexandre (1902–1968) By Elmore, Jonathan
Alexandre Kojève was a French philosopher of Russian birth, most remembered for his introduction of Hegel into French and Continental thought. Kojève’s work on Hegel went far beyond simply exegesis or analysis, unstead constituting a radically original reinterpretation of Hegelian thought, specifically Hegel’s philosophy of history. Kojève’s readings of Hegel draw heavily on Heidegger’s ontology and the materialism of Marx. From Heidegger, Kojève draws temporality into Hegel’s universal process of history, arguing that humanity’s being is fundamentally defined by its temporality. From Marx, he takes the materiality of ontology, seeing history as the succession of that which humanity produces. Kojève’s career began in earnest when he settled in Paris to teach at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes. It was there, from 1933 to 1939, that he would teach a seminar on Hegel that, directly and indirectly, influenced so many twentieth-century intellectuals: Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Georges Bataille, Louis Althusser, Raymond Aron, to name a few. Following World War II, he worked for the French Ministry of Economic Affairs and continued writing philosophy until his death. While he wrote multiple volumes on philosophy and philosophers, many published after his death, his most influential writings were his published lectures on Hegel, appearing in 1947 in French (Introduction à la lecture de Hegel) and later in English as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (1969).