Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit is a book about Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel by Alexandre Kojève. Alexandre Kojève was a Russian-born French philosopher and statesman whose philosophical Some of Kojève’s more important lectures on Hegel have been published in English in the now classic Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Jan 14, Introhution n rte Reading of Hegel: Lecttres on rle Phenomenology of Spirig . KojEve is the most thoughtful, the most learned, the most pro-.

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On the other hand, if — at the start — the Slave’s freedom is recognized by no one but him- self, if, consequently, it is purely abstract, it can end in being realized and in being realized in its perfection.

The Master appears only for the sake of engendering the Slave who “over- comes” aufhebt him as Master, while thereby “overcoming” himself as Slave. Thus, all action is “negating.

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This conception, according to which History is a dialectic or an interaction of Mastery and Slavery, permits us to understand the meaning of the division of the historical process into three great periods of very unequal lengths, incidentally.

The real conditions of existence would have no importance at all: Taken as Self-Consciousness as such, the Slave, too, is related to the thing in a negative or negating way, and he over- comes it [dialectically]. Kojeve insists that Hegel is the only man who suc- ceeded in making this proof, and his interpretation of the Phenom- enology expands and clarifies Hegel’s assertion that reality is ra- tional and hence justifies rational discourse hrgel it.

But it is equally impossible when only one of the adversaries is killed. For hevel in this case can one reveal a reality in speech. Do they understand him? Le Concept, le temps et le discours, extrapolates on the Hegelian notion that wisdom only becomes possible in the fullness of time.

Alexandre Kojève

If man is nothing but his becoming, if his human existence in space is his existence in time or as time, if the revealed human reality is nothing but universal history, that history must be the history of the inter- action between Mastery and Slavery: Now, the risk of life is the same at all times and in all places.


The negativity of being, manifest as desire, makes possible man’s self-making, the process of ‘becoming’. And, in this immediacy, in this given-being [i. The man who became master was willing to ‘go all the way’.

Perfection which is always conscious of itself can be attained only in and by work. And this Slave who has been “overcome” is the one who will be satisfied by what he is and will understand that he is satisfied in and by Hegel’s philosophy, in and by the Phe- nomenology.

So, on the material level, the slave possesses the key to his own liberation, namely his active mastery of nature. Rather, Being must first, or simultaneously, be constituted as a self-conscious being through its relation with others, in a dialectic of recognition, in order that it may become the kind of being which is capable of anticipating its death as the end towards which it is thrown, and hence of constituting itself existentially as a being-towards-death.

Man becomes conscious of himself at the moment when — for the “first” time — he says “I. Hence one might be inclined to say that Being is dialectical only to the extent that it is revealed by Thought, that Thought is what gives Being its dialectical character.

The naive man, the vulgar scientist, even the pre-Hegelian philosopher — each in his way opposes himself to the Real and deforms it by opposing, his own means of action and methods of thought to it.

Published in French under the title Introduction a la Lecture de Hegel 2d ed. Taken in this sense, Begriff signifies a particular real entity or a real aspect of being, revealed by the meaning of a word — i.

History and Desire in Kojève

Thanks to his work, he can become other; and, thanks to his work, the World can become other. The risk itself is what counts, and it does not matter whether a stone ax or a machine gun is being used. The Master, then, is the catalyst of the historical, anthropogenetic process. The more he is conscious of the thing, the less he is conscious of himself. Hence, here again we would seem to be dealing with a dialectical method in the search for truth or in its exposition, which in no way affects the Real which that truth reveals.


Laborious slavery is the source of all human social historical progress. The analysis of the essential character of the Master-Slave oppo- sition—that is, of the motive principle of the historical process- is found in Chapter IV.

And none of them, except Hegel, resolved it. The Master, unable to recognize the Other who recognizes him, finds himself in an impasse.

Hegel does not need a God who would reveal the truth to him. Many of Kojeve’s translations of Hegelian terms are not the customary ones, but represent his interpretation of their meaning.

To reveal this World, there- fore, is to reveal the World— that is, to reveal being in the completed totality of its spatial-temporal existence. For it is as animal-life that the merely existing object has here presented itself. Rorty precis the basis of Being and Time as follows: The Master is the man who went all the way in a Fight for prestige, who risked his life in order to be recognized in his abso- lute superiority by another man. That is why, when this experience is described verbally, it represents a Truth in the strong sense of the term.

References and Further Reading Butler, Judith: For each must raise his subjective-certainty of existing for self to the level of truth, both in the other and in himself. His thought simply reflects the Real. In the Slave’s case, to act effectively would be to negate Slavery — that is, to negate the Master, and hence to risk his life in a Fight against the Master. Based on the major work by Kojeve, this collection of lectures was chosen by Bloom to show the intensity of Kojeve s study and thought and the depth of his insight into Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

And this is what is insuffi- cient—what is tragic — in his situation.