The Notion of Authority
by Alexandre Kojève Translated by Hager Weslati
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224 pages / August 2014 / 9781781680957
August 2014 / 9781781686300

Landmark analysis of authority written in Nazi-occupied France

In The Notion of Authority, written in the 1940s in Nazi-occupied France, Alexandre Kojève uncovers the conceptual premises of four primary models of authority, examining the practical application of their derivative variations from the Enlightenment to Vichy France.

This foundational text, translated here into English for the first time, is the missing piece in any discussion of sovereignty and political authority, worthy of a place alongside the work of Weber, Arendt, Schmitt, Agamben or Dumézil.

The Notion of Authority is a short and sophisticated introduction to Kojève's philosophy of right. It captures its author's intellectual interests at a time when he was retiring from the career of a professional philosopher and was about to become one of the pioneers of the Common Market and the idea of the European Union.


“Kojève 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.”

“Kojève’s lectures made a deep impression on his listeners – to more various and influential effect than probably any others in France this century”

“Kojève 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!”

“Alexandre Kojève’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.”

“A brilliant Russian émigré who taught a highly influential series of seminars in Paris. Kojève had a major impact on the intellectual life of the continent. Among his students ranged such future luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron.”

“Alexandre Kojève ... is one of the most notable Russian thinkers of the twentieth century ... the lectures represent an exceedingly important (and tendentious) interpretation of Hegel, if not an independent philosophical view in the guise of a seemingly objective scholarly commentary.”

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