Kojève: Here and Now

September 1, 2021 - September 3, 2021
Queen Mary University of London

United Kingdom

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  • Virginia Tech
  • Queen Mary University of London





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Alexandre Kojève is widely recognized as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. Indeed, the breadth of his work, which spans from a phenomenology of religion, through theoretical considerations on modern art, to one of the first philosophical treatments of quantum physics, would seem to justify this reputation. Regardless, the reception of his thought tends to be restricted to a single dimension concerning his lectures on Hegel and their ongoing influence. As a result, most accounts of Kojève’s philosophy begin and end with an analysis of his commentary on Hegel—a tendency that, until quite recently, has gone largely unchallenged.

However, owing in part to a series of newly transcribed and translated manuscripts, a renewed enthusiasm in Kojèvean scholarship has started to peel back the outmoded caricature of the philosopher of the “end of history.” What has become apparent is that while there is no doubt that his commentary on Hegel marks an important stage in the development of his thought, it in no way can be considered either a point of departure nor terminal node. Instead, hidden under Kojève’s Hegelian façade there appears to lay dormant a more complex, if not eclectic, collected work. It is in the spirit of bringing this work into the "Here and Now" that we intend this workshop on Kojève.

The goal is to bring together those who are currently engaged with elements of Kojève’s oeuvre that have, at least up to now, been relegated to the status of ‘minor works’. These include, but are not limited to, his early ruminations on the philosophy of in-existence found in his “Diary of a Philosopher”, philosophy of religion (Solov’ev, atheism), philosophy of science (quantum physics, determinism), aesthetics (Kandinsky, Surrealism), political philosophy (authority, right), and ontology found in his so-called “attempt” at a system of knowledge. We also, of course, welcome scholarship that makes use of his many scattered writings in the form of letters, reviews, short essays and presentations.

Finally, motivated by the same ethos of “wanting to know how history happens'' that led him to join la Direction de la recherche et des études économiques (DREE) following the war, we hope to entertain discussions on Kojève’s place within the intellectual history of interwar Germany and France, Russian philosophy, transnationalism, art history and post-war European politics and economics. Our hope in organizing this event is to not only unveil a fresh perspective on Kojève’s rich philosophical thought and its contexts but also to form new connections, both of a scholarly and personal nature.

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August 31, 2021, 11:00pm BST

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