Sartre and the Generation of Kojeve
Alexander Kojeve and Jean-Paul Sartre belong to a generation that learned philosophy in the thirties studying Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger. The entire generation believed that an authentic life is possible only if one shares the condition of one's contemporaries. Isolated or purely intellectual life are not sufficient. Only after joining one's peers is it possible to 'decide what next one must decide'. The choices made by Kojeve and Sartre were very different though similarly motivated. For Kojeve the intellectual decision to form an identity meant to acquire 'an Asiatic ironic awareness of one' inessentiality', or to become a 'Schoene Seele'. That desire led him to follow Hegel, to speculate about the sense of history and the ontology of the subject. He agreed with Hegel that history is made by a dialectical relation between man and nature. He rejected, however, Hegel's assumption that both man and nature have a dialectical character, too. Instead he proposed a concept of a 'being-in-itself-that-is-also-for-itself', and called it God. Sartre found that proposal incoherent, and argued that neither Hegelian conception of God, nor any other, is tenable.
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