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Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,405 ratings  ·  49 reviews
"This collection of Kojeve's thoughts about Hegel constitutes one of the few important philosophical books of the twentieth century--a book, knowledge of which is requisite to the full awareness of our situation and to the grasp of the most modern perspective on the eternal questions of philosophy."--Allan Bloom (from the Introduction)

During the years 1933-1939, the Russia
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 30th 1980 by Agora/Cornell University Press (first published 1947)
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Jul 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Jesus H. Deceased Christ. Kojeve makes everything far more difficult than I think it has to be. So, while this book was at times revelatory and made me feel like I was this close to "knowing" Hegel's mind, Kojeve always then launched into a 10 page (might as well have been 1000 page) discussion of how we can draw "The Idea" "IN Time" or "OUTSIDE of Time" as a circle, or two circles, or a square with a dildo glued on it, or whatever. The whole book was like that. Plus, Kojeve doesn't use modern w ...more
Roy Lotz
Generally speaking, there is a tendency to underestimate the difficulties of satisfaction and to overestimate those of omniscience.

Alexandre Kojève is easily one of the most influential thinkers of the last century. This is peculiar, considering that his reputation rests mainly on his interpretation of Hegel, an interpretation which he developed and propounded in a series of lectures in 1933-39. Many who attended these lectures—Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Lacan, to name just two—went o
Erik Graff
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hegelians, Marxists
Recommended to Erik by: Henri Mottu
Shelves: philosophy
We read this book along with the complete text of Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit in a course on the book taught by Henri Mottu, a visiting professor from French Switzerland teaching at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The class was excellent, the reading of the Phenomenology an excitingly intriguing introduction to years of further study, but Kojeve's interpretation was too tendentiously Marxist (particularly the part on the Master-Slave dialectic) to be taken very seriously. St ...more
David M
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
So good I wonder if there's even any need to read Hegel (the answer, most likely, is YES, you fool!). The stuff about the end of history and the master-slave dialectic has really stuck with me. ...more

July 2006

A Brief Note on Tactics

This book, an 'Introduction to the Reading of Hegel', is a collection of transcripts and notes collected and edited by Raymond Queneau, that is the true beginning of the contemporary 'End of History' debate. But can there ever be a final reconciliation between the innumerable factions of human history? "...[H]e [i.e., Hegel] definitely reconciles himself with all that is and has been, by declaring that there will never more be anything new on earth. ('Intro
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
I went into this book without any background in Hegel or Marx. A professor recommended this text as a major work that inspired existentialist thinkers like Merleau-Ponty and Sartre, and that gives a Heideggarian interpretation to Hegel's primary ideas in the Phenomenology of Spirit. I have a background in Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, and an intense fascination with the idea of the master-slave dialectic, so I thought this book would be well worth a try.

The first chapter was intellectually and e
Alex Obrigewitsch
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kojéve's importance in bringing Hegel, and a particular reading of Hegel, to France cannot be overlooked. It is noticeable in the weighty influence he had on thinkers such as Lacan, Sartre, and Blanchot, to only name a few examples.

Kojéve's work is excellent in interpreting and expressing Hegel's often maddening thought. He had a great grasp of Hegel's thought, mixing in a sprinkling of Marx and viewed through a heavily Heideggerian lens (albeit anthropologically rendered).

His major stumbling b
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you need a rigorous guide to the PoS that doesn't stray far from the text, look elsewhere. But if you are more interested in the history of philosophy, this book is enormously helpful for understanding how Hegel became a cornerstone for 20th century continental philosophy. Whether or not he is accurate or faithful, Kojeve distills provocative insights from Hegel's large and tedious body of work.

By the end of the book I found myself vehemently disagreeing with Kojeve-Hegel's anthropocentric on
Nov 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
hands-down the most profound reflections on hegel in the 20th C i have yet read--and from a russian frenchman, no less! which is not to say that kojeve gives us hegel's philosophy. kojeve shows us what can be done with hegel rather than what hegel wished to do/teach. if i were to rate this "book" on the basis of the promise contained in its title, i would have to give kojeve an "F"; this is a *horrible* introduction to the reading of hegel. but i imagine the title was chosen with no small irony. ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
To lecture on Hegel and to make wit. Kojeve manages to make some absurdities in the Phenomenology near sensible. I was surprised by the Heideggerian undertone. But "The victory of Lyssenko has no scientific character" and no matter how attractive for a self consciousness, animistic projection goes only so far. The value of this witty treatment is in part to warn the reader of the charms of dialectical consistency. ...more
Randal Samstag
Nov 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The most straightforward summary of the Phenomenology giving the materialist interpretation of Hegel. The book is edited by Allan Bloom, the intellectual father of Fukuyama and The End of History.
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
read this not the Hegel original. if you like it, try hegel
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a revelation. Thanks to ooiaur for the rec. When I first read Hegel's Phänomenologie, I got nothing. Now, I do get everything. Thanks Mr. Kojève. ...more
Campbell Rider
People love saying how accessible Kojeve's reading of Hegel is and then pointing out that Kojeve's Hegel isn't really Hegel at all. I haven't read much actual Hegel so I can't really judge. But I think there's something basically correct about Kojeve's decision to emphasise labour, desire, and struggle. At the very least, it's worthwhile to read someone who extracts from Hegel so much of what figures like Marx, Sartre and Lacan saw in him. His commentary on the master-slave dialectic is also pro ...more
immaculata form
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The deficiencies, but also the merits, of a such an approach are acutely felt after encountering the Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (Lectures on the "Phenomenology of Spirit," given from 1933 to 1939 at L'Ecole des hautes Etudes, collected and edited by Raymond Queneau, Paris: Gallimard, 1947. Fessard's note.). For M. Kojeve's work, also an explanation of the Phenomenology of Spirit, is the complete antithesis of a "good scholarly work": First of all by its presentation, where the disparat ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Introduction to the Reading of Hegel" is the most famous text of Alexandre Kojève, which is, from a purely compositional point of view, transcripts and summaries of lectures given during 1933-1939 in Paris: these lectures, by the way, at various times visited people like Raymond Aron and Maurice Merleau-Ponty - not the last persons in the European philosophy. In his lectures, Kojève explains the first and one of the most famous works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - the book "Phenomenology of ...more
Samelu   Binumcole
I am going to admit straight away that I will never "finish" reading this book because
it was to dense for me, but not understanding clearly all of it does not mean that I will
not keep coming back.
The first part of the book is about the development
of history through the Hegelian Master / Slave dialectic. Which Kojeve does a fine
job of explaining in the first part of the book. It´s a summary of the first chapters
of the Phenomenology of Spirit. The next parts I found to be interesting but as I
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Rarely have a read a book that I thought was so good and so bad all at the same time. There are moments of absolute brilliance here, particularly in his reading of the master/slave dialectic. However, once Kojeve gets going about the "Wise Man" and the "End of History" I had the complete opposite reaction. It's as if for every great idea and interpretation of Hegel here there's a bad one waiting to balance it out a few pages later. It's definitely worth reading and is an important text in the ph ...more
Tony Poerio
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Read this years ago because Zizek and Deleuze and all the other hip post-everything philosopher types kept referring to "Kojeve's Hegel". Some people will argue that Kojeve is projecting here, combining his own views with Hegel's and creating an entirely new work of philosophy altogether. Not Hegel but "Kojeve's Hegel": interesting, but best taken with a grain of salt if you want to understand what Hegel actually means.

I don't like to think of it that way. Think of Kojeve as Hegel's editor. And
Eduardo Goye
Mar 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
It makes me really sad this is one of the most influencial lectures on the subject, while at the same time being one of the most distorted readings of Hegel. Takes the Master/Slave dialectic and pretends like it’s “the key” of the system (spoiler alert: it’s not). Constantly claims “Hegel says...” and “Hegel believes...” without ever quoting the author. If you have not read the Phenomenology of Spirit, you just have to believe Kojeve. The problem is that he completely misses the point of the ont ...more
Karl Hallbjörnsson
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is more like a 2.5 — reasons include Kojeve's tendency to overcomplicate Hegel, as well as my disagreement with him on a couple of factors of interpretation. Not a bad work by any means, the first chapters were very good — the later ones felt overly drawn out and a little too exegetical. I'm no expert on Hegel, so I could be wrong, but I'm not so sure that Kojeve's teleological „End of History“ interpretation is the correct one. His rationalization, for example his use of the Owl of Minerva ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a very good and very provocative text. On the one hand, his understanding of Hegel's phenomenology is so important and so insightful--it has influenced so many of the following generation in France that have become household names today. But there are certain peculiarities in Kojeve's reading: he stresses the Master/Slave dialectic to the exclusion of almost every other dialectic found in the Phenomenology. He also has a constant polemic against Christianity which governs his materialist ...more
Tom Griffin
Easier going than the phenomenology. Whether that makes it a good introduction, I'm not sure, as Kojeve is clearly indebted to other thinkers like Heidegger, and not afraid to declare his suffered with Hegel on e.g. dialectics in nature. ...more
Ozgur Deniz
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exciting introduction to hegel, and his phenomology of spirit
Sabarish Suresh
A great introductory text to Hegel's Phenomenology. ...more
Apr 24, 2020 added it
Shelves: revisit, hist, phil, rel, law
basically a book on how to become a god. highly recommended.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It pushed me to finish the Phenomenology earlier as I would refer to it after reading significant parts of the book. I learned about Kojeve via my Lacan readings. I really enjoyed this book a lot, and it is very helpful for my path as a philosopher becoming a counsellor. Teach psychoanalysts how to be. Hegelian psychoanalysts. This is amazing work.
Sep 29, 2016 rated it liked it
In the first part, Kojève is concerned with rendering accessible Hegel's master-slave dialectic and giving a mythical account of it as the first meeting of two persons. My interpretation of Kojève's mythologized account was that the encounter is supposed to represent the inevitable power struggle that happens between peoples with competing interests. Kojève spends quite a few pages developing the master-slave dialectic theme and drawing out its consequences. I was hoping Kojève would give us som ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it liked it
If anything, I now feel more confident making jokes about how "I know the Totality."

I was expecting this book to clarify and give summaries of the chapters in the Phenomenology. Instead, it seems to be elaborations on Hegel's thought, which I still found fairly useful. The chapter on the Master-Slave was pretty good, though sort of sketchy due to Kojeve's Stalinist (?) perspective and a literal appeal to the killing and death of the masters. This sort of politic also came out again in the final
Aug 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Kojeve's commentary on Hegel's *Phenomenology* is a brilliant example of what Emerson termed "creative reading"--a skill cultivated by far too few. That said, the book is not for everyone. One reads Kojeve to discover a living Hegel; most people are content to know that the man and his system are dead. As a devotee of Kierkegaard in my youth, I was among those who felt that Hegel's ghost was best avoided. In middle age, I am not so sure. The system I can do without (I remain Kierkegaardian in th ...more
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Alexandre Kojève was a Russian-born French philosopher and statesman whose philosophical seminars had an immense influence on twentieth-century French philosophy, particularly via his integration of Hegelian concepts into continental philosophy. As a statesman in the French government, he was instrumental in the creation of the European Union. Kojève was a close friend of, and was in lifelong phil ...more

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