The Inexistent in the Ontology of Alexandre Kojève

Weslati, Hager (2017) The Inexistent in the Ontology of Alexandre Kojève. China Media Research, 13(4), pp. 48-56. ISSN (print) 1556-889X


Departing from the question of 'absence as given' (or the 'non-given' as 'presence' to conscious experience), the work of Russian-French philosopher Alexandre Kojève opened up Western ontology of being ('of which one speaks' [l’être dont on parle]) to the foundational premises of 'Oriental wisdom'. This article identifies two major articulations or moments in Kojevean ontology. The 'inexistent' as a constituent element of the doctrine of the given was first outlined between the early 1920s and early 1930s in his Descartes-Buddha thought experiment and in his close study of Vassily Kandinsky’s introduction of sonic effects in 'concrete painting.' In his post-war manuscripts, Kojève resumed and completed the ontological plane of his philosophical system in a comprehensive survey of Western ontologies from the pre-Socratics to Kant, matching the 'temporal' modes of being (eternity, the eternal, the temporal, and time) with their logical articulations as identity, difference, (the Kantian) discourse and absence. The article highlights the implications of this line of thought on three major concerns in Kojève's 'philosophy of the inexistent': theism and atheism, political freedom, and the question of knowledge.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page