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The Black Circle

A Life of Alexandre Kojeve

Jeff Love

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Columbia University Press
24 August 2021
Alexandre Koj??ve (1902?1968) was an important and provocative thinker. Born in Russia, he spent most of his life in France. His interpretation of Hegel and his notorious declaration that history had come to an end exerted great influence on French thinkers and writers such as Raymond Aron, Georges Bataille, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Lacan, and Raymond Queneau. An unorthodox Marxist, he was a critic of Martin Heidegger and interlocutor of Leo Strauss who played a significant role in establishing the European Economic Community; a polyglot with many unusual interests, he wrote works, mostly unpublished in his lifetime, on quantum physics, the problem of the infinite, Buddhism, atheism, and Vassily Kandinsky's paintings.

In The Black Circle, Jeff Love reinterprets Koj??ve's works, showing him to be an essential thinker who challenged modern society and its valuation of individuality, self-interest, and freedom from death. Emphasizing Koj??ve's neglected Russian roots, The Black Circle puts him in the context of the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Russian debates over the proper ends of human life. Love explores notions of perfection, freedom, and finality in Koj??ve's account of Hegel and his neglected later works, clarifying Koj??ve's emancipatory thinking and the meaning of the oft-misinterpreted ?end of history.? Combining intellectual history, close textual analysis, and philosophy, The Black Circle reveals Koj??ve's thought as a profound critique of capitalist individualism and a timely meditation on human freedom.
By:   Jeff Love
Imprint:   Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780231186575
ISBN 10:   0231186576
Pages:   376
Publication Date:   24 August 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jeff Love is Research Professor of German and Russian at Clemson University. He is the author of The Overcoming of History in War and Peace (2004), editor of Heidegger in Russia and Eastern Europe (2017), and translator of Kojeve's Atheism (Columbia, 2018), among other works.

Reviews for The Black Circle: A Life of Alexandre Kojeve

This lucid book goes far in clarifying the origins of and the problems with Kojeve's 'end of history' thesis. * Choice * Love's thoughtful account and probing interrogation of Kojeve's texts shed light on both the powerful arguments and interpretations that Kojeve presents and the bewildering paradoxes and problems that the outcomes of these arguments leave us with. -- James H. Nichols * H-Net * A sophisticated contribution to the study of one of the most enigmatic modern thinkers, this book is simultaneously scholarly and bold. It not only retraces Kojeve's roots in more than a century of Russian literature and thought but also-attuned to the paradoxes and ironies embedded in his kaleidoscopic corpus-orchestrates a spirited exchange among canonical figures of the 'Western tradition,' from Plato and Aristotle to Beckett and Leo Strauss. -- Ilya Kliger, New York University In this excellent intellectual biography, Jeff Love explicates the thought and speculates on the intentions of expatriate Russian Hegelian philosopher Alexandre Kojeve. Love's readings of neglected Russian influences on Kojeve (Dostoevsky and philosophers Vladimir Soloviev and Nikolai Fedorov) and of Kojeve himself are satisfyingly complex, clear, and accessible. His Kojeve is deep, controversial, and a 'philosophical propagandist' still relevant today. -- Donna Orwin, University of Toronto Known only in Anglophone letters for a drastically truncated translation of his idiosyncratic and influential Parisian Lectures on Hegel, Alexandre Kojeve bequeathed to posterity a multitude of tantalizing manuscripts and has finally received the intellectual contextualization and philosophical interpretation he deserves. In his magisterial study Jeff Love uncovers the profound presence of nineteenth-century Russian thought within Kojeve's literary style and his philosophy of negation, finality, perfection, repetition, political community, and radical freedom, such that Kojeve emerges from Dostoevsky's underground as a distinctly Russian Hegelian existentialist thinker worthy of serious consideration today. -- Henry W. Pickford, Duke University Kojeve is best known as arguably the best twentieth-century commentator on Hegel. But Love's incisive book shows that he is much more. This is by far the best, most comprehensive overview of Kojeve's thinking in any language and the only one to draw in detail on Kojeve's Russian background. Clearly, elegantly written and argued, it is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the complexity and range of twentieth-century thought. -- William Todd Mills, Harry Tuchman Levin Professor of Literature, Harvard University The Black Circle is an extraordinary study in which hardcore philosophical issues are approached at a cosmic level but lyrically, almost as part of an intimate conversation. Alexandre Kojeve was so thoroughly at home in German and French culture that his origins in yet a third culture have been neglected. In this book, Jeff Love restores Russian contexts to Kojeve's thought on Hegel and the 'end of history.' -- Caryl Emerson, Princeton University


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