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Hegel and Twentieth-Century French Philosophy

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter

Publication date1/08/2017
Host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Hegel
EditorsDean Moyar
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (electronic)9780199355228
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Hegel’s thought has had immense influence on twentieth- century French philosophy and intellectual life. Having held little significance for French philosophers in the early 1900s, Hegel’s thought burst onto the intellectual scene in the 1930s through, above all, the lectures on Hegel given from 1933 to 1939 by the Russian émigré Alexandre Kojève. Kojève placed the master/slave dialectic at the heart of Hegel’s philosophy, along with exciting ideas about labor, recognition, and the end of history. Kojève’s lectures were attended by, among others, Raymond Aron, Georges Bataille, the surrealist André Breton, Jacques Lacan, and Maurice Merleau- Ponty, all of whom engaged with aspects of Kojève’s ideas. Those ideas also became widely known through Kojève’s 1939 commentary on the master/slave dialectic in the journal Mesures and the subsequent publication of selections from his lectures in 1947 as Introduction to the Reading of Hegel. Becoming important to Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre, Kojève’s ideas fed into their key formulations of existentialism. Overall, Kojève’s ideas decisively stamped virtually every area of twentieth- century French thought: psychoanalysis; religious thought; international relations theory; phenomenology and existentialism; and postcolonial thought, by way of its founding father Frantz Fanon.