Chapter

The First Twentieth-Century Postmodernist: Alexandre Kojève

in On the Future of History

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780226072791
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226072814 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.003.0010
The First Twentieth-Century Postmodernist: Alexandre Kojève

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Alexandre Vladimirovitch Kojevnikov (1902–1968) or Koj`eve, as he was called as a French resident, was not fated to be quite as obscure a figure as Cournot had been. Cournot's work had foreshadowed uncannily the postmodernist transcription of Condorcet's triumphantly modernist message into the sober terms of subsequent centuries. Koj`eve reshaped the Hegelian version of the progress theory (or more accurately, elements of it) in the spirit of structural postmodernism for a generation still shocked by World War I and facing virulent ideological conflicts. For that role, his life prepared him exceedingly well. Koj`eve's work was created in the politically and intellectually turbulent Europe that had seen a sharp decline in the persuasive force of the progress view. The word crisis began to be affixed to the connotations of progress and its vision of Western culture's future. With the actual present as well as the expectations for the future lacking sufficient promise, intellectuals were receptive to views of the past that no longer suggested a story of a steady human ascendancy to a greater rationality.

Keywords: Koj`eve; structural postmodernism; progress theory; Western culture; rationality; ideological conflicts

Chapter.  2509 words. 

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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