The Notion of Authority Hardcover – 1 Aug 2014
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Kojeve was a magician of thought... undoubtedly, he was the inventor of the last grand narrative of philosophy and history, of which the neo-conservative ideologue Fukuyama was but a mediocre imitator. --Pierre Macherey
Kojeve spoke of Hegel's religious philosophy, the phenomenology of Spirit, master and slave, the struggle for prestige, the in-itself, the for-itself, nothingness, projects, the human essence as revealed in the struggle onto death and in the transformation of error into truth. Strange theses for a world beleaguered by fascism! --Louis Althusser
Alexandre Kojeve's originality and courage, it must be said, is to have perceived the impossibility of going any further, the necessity, consequently, of renouncing the creation of an original philosophy and, thereby, the interminable starting-over which is the avowal of the vanity of thought. --Georges Bataille
About the Author
ALEXANDRE KOJEVE (1902-68) was one of the key figures of twentieth-century philosophy. He is most widely known for his lectures on Hegel, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, which shaped a generation of French intellectuals. Other titles in English include Outline of a Phenomenology of Right and The Concept, Time, and Discourse.
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Putting this text in its relationship to Kojeve’s other works looks like the following:
Notion of Authority: written 1942, French pub. 2004, Eng. pub. 2014
Outline of a Phil. Of Right: written 1943, French pub. 1980’s, Eng. pub. 2001
Intro to Hegel: French pub. 1947, Eng. Pub 1969
The “notion of authority” was never intended for public availability and publication. Instead Kojeve wrote it to circulate among his “philosophy-of-law” friends in French government.
It essentially is a 100 page policy-paper to stir conversation between his political friends.
Because it is simply a 100 page treatise and not a book-project; a great deal of necessary material has been left out. You will have to have a very in-depth understanding of his position in his book on “introducing Hegel”; almost to the point where you can anticipate his thought. There are many holes here that the reader is supposed to just “understand”.
But he does tells us that it is written as “Phenomenology” first; then moves on to metaphysical consideration; and finally ontological expansion within the context of “Being”.
As an outline; you will have to fill in with what you understand from the “phenomenology of Hegel analysis” that Kojeve brilliantly produced.
But that helps us, in a way; because we know to approach the text from the point-of-view of self-consciousness and its grasp of authority. And we also know that the place of the “notion of the true” cannot alter in this text. We have a common intersecting point that keeps us on track.
“Authority” is a theoretical articulation of the “ideal” for Kojeve that always needs validation as “recognition”. There is no authority without recognition. And in phenomenology, we know that the theoretical self is the “master-self” for Kojeve.
We are taken on a journey of following the inertia of “Centripetal Thought”, headed for the axis of the TUPOS-SELF, and that important flip of priority, igniting the process of the praxis of the “slave-self”.
I will give you the “chronology of selves” that Kojeve creates in this treatise; and then you can use it to supplement your own research. The process evolves in the following manner:
1. NOMINATED-SELF: where the existing collective-authority makes possible our adoption or nomination into the authority-process. (Through the mediation of education).
2. LEADER-SELF: we develop our own individual universal-ethical-project and search for a way to implement it and gain recognition for our contribution.
3. CRITICAL-JUDGE-SELF: on the threshold of dialogue, we sort out the social implications of authority and refine our position by seeking to identify the eternal-authority that is veiled by the temporal-authority.
4. AUTHORITATIVE-SELF: here we construct our theoretical-model, which will include: an all-inclusive total-authority, with its selective sub-system authorities. Creating an ideal as a living-organism.
5. MASTER-SELF: already a central part of Kojeve’s thought-process; always thinking as a Hegelian. This is the “self” ready to take-on the “decisive-project”; through the RISK of positing. Transitioning from master to slave is going to involve existential-risk.
6. TUPOS-SELF: centripetal-thought finally reaches its AXIS-POINT, where the self performs the “axis-flip” of generating the priority of the slave-self entering into praxis.
7. SLAVE-SELF: “efficient cause” is initiated through this awakening of the “slave-self”. Who also carries with it the material cause of existential-memory.
8. CAUSALITY-SELF: realization for Kojeve is equal to a “diversified causality” of complex-authority. Combining efficient-cause; material-cause; final-cause; and contemplative-cause of the JUDGE-SELF.
9. NOMINATING GENESIS-SELF: we travel full-circle and get involved in education on the psychological level, in order to coax other selves into a continuing “nomination” to authority.
A difficult text, indeed. But after the hard work involved in researching it, I must say 5 stars for certain.
Maybe it isn't fair to compare the two books. However, anyone exposed to the former masterpiece of philosophical analysis will be disappointed in the "Authority" book. It is Kojeve and therefore has inescapably merit as well as one's simple curiosity about one piece of his other work.