Alexandre Kojeve

Regina Silveira, "Paradoxo do Santo", 1994.


Commentary on the new biography of the philosopher

The political azione of the philosopher is the second biography of Alexandre Kojève written by Marco Filoni. I liked the title of the first one: The philosopher of the domenica [Bollati Boringhieri, 2008]. As he evoked Hegel's aesthetic philosophy, in the part where he approached Flemish painting and said that “this is the end of History, everyone is happy, they don't need anything else”.

This second version is far less utopian. It begins by showing all the contribution that Kojève made to the French cultural elite by giving, between 1933-1936, the famous course on the phenomenology of the spirit of Hegel.

Alexandre Koyré, the great phenomenologist, had been absent, gone to Cairo and, in his place, taking Koyré's article – “Hegel in Jena” – as an impetus, Kojève makes a radical interpretation of the phenomenology of the spirit, from its Chapter IV, “The Dialectic of the Master and the Slave”. In this sense, deeds that marked an entire generation of French intellectuals, the desire for desire, the desire for recognition, the dialectic of master and slave are taught in Paris [KOJÈVE, Alexandre. Introduction to reading Hegel. Paris: Gallimard, 1947].

Marco Filoni shows that this Hegel is not just the Parisian, but the Russian, such was the influence of Russian (religious) philosophers, such as Vladimir Solovyov, masterful author of A History of the Antichrist [A Story of Anti-Christ. Fredericksburg / Kassock Bros], around the meditation on Sophia as the incarnation of the human soul.

Filoni points out that “Sophia” was the subject of the thousand-page manuscript, which Georges Bataille kept hidden in the National Library of France, together with manuscripts entrusted to him by Walter Benjamin.

The Russian influence is not only due to the religion of non-existence, of Buddhist origin, but also the philosophy of action, that is, the core of this second biography of Filoni. After all, in Hegel, action as negation is the characteristic of man via work.

What is the end of the story for Kojève? It will be the end of history with a Hegelian-Marxist matrix, but which culminates in the Stalinist vision, as Jeff Love writes in the black circle?

It will be the end of the story to Kant, by his friend Éric Weil [Hegel et l'Etat. Vrin, 1970], after disillusionment with Hegelian-Marxism?

It is certainly not the end of the story for neoliberals such as Francis Fukuyama [The End of History and the Last Man. The Free Press, 1992], which distorted Hegel's interpretation.

Between the Hegelian Marxist vision and the Stalinist vision, Filoni rightly hints at Kojevian irony in a footnote, after all, what is philosophy without irony?

And even the controversial topic of Kojève as a KGB spy deserves, in Kojèvian fashion, just a footnote to portray the persecutory intent of the French DST, which demonstrates more than Kojève's affiliation with the KGB, a total fascination with the DST for the work of the philosopher who was part of the post-war administrative elite in France.

Particularly, I would prefer to learn the work The philosopher of the domenica, because I didn't need to know how it is in this second work how Kojève looked like Vichy. In the reality of Vichy, in the face of the reality of fascism in that one, Kojève, an active member of the French resistance and with daring actions on the front line, within the army and trying to turn the Nazi army in favor of the resistance, with his skillful linguistic knowledge, also does a bridge with the only Vichy intellectual who was somewhat resistant.

This explains why Kojève's book The concept of authority [The notion of authority. Gallimard, 2004], which is a continuation of Kojève's phenomenology of law, unfortunately considers Pétain's authority to be legitimate. Anyone who considers Carl Schmitt knows these sweets from his work, as it is a direct influence, despite the fact that, in 1955, Kojève begins to be interested in Schmitt's work and is invited to speak in Düsseldorf, it is about the two Machiavelli of the XNUMXth century.

This second edition also taught me that, in addition to Kojève's Hegel-Marx, we have the important influence of the Durkheimian school, after all, Kojève's realism is also Durkheim's sociological realism. Marcel Mauss' gift/gift concept allows Kojève to overcome Schmitt, as the “nomos” of capitalism is not to take as the origin of the word nomos, but "donate". Capitalism that gives, a new form of postcolonial capitalism.

However, this capitalism, too, is Hegelian superseded, not by Stalin, but by the ritualistic formalism of Eastern life.

We look forward to the publication of “Sophia”. Sophia is one of the divine emanations, the sphere of wisdom. Could it be that Kojève, who defended an atheist elite, as Filoni speaks in relation to the Latin empire to lead the Catholic countries. Deep down, don't you accept Sophia's secularization?

It would not be the end of Kojève's story, in fact, 1806, when Hegel sees Napoleon deliver in Jena, not only the cannonballs, but also the Civil Code and the Declaration of Human Rights?

The End of the Republic of Letters, by Pierre Bayle [Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres], would it not generate a new era of the end of exploitation and the liberation of the oppressed?

If Sophia is of the essence of Philosophy, perhaps the coming years will reveal the end of the history of the revelation of justice on earth.

The book is so perfect that, despite having won the best title, “The Sunday Philosopher”, it ends with The Sunday Philosophy, by the Catholic realist GK Chesterton [CHESTERTON, GK The man who was Thursday], in the book in honor of Thursday.

*Ari Marcelo Solon is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among others, of books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the development of justice (Prisms).


Marco Filoni. The political azione of the philosopher: La vita e Il pensiero di Alexandre Kojève. Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2021.


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