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On the Future of HistoryThe Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath$
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Ernst Breisach

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226072791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.001.0001

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The First Twentieth-Century Postmodernist: Alexandre Kojève

The First Twentieth-Century Postmodernist: Alexandre Kojève

10 The First Twentieth-Century Postmodernist: Alexandre Kojève
On the Future of History
University of Chicago Press

Alexandre Vladimirovitch Kojevnikov (1902–1968) or Koj`eve, as he was called as a French resident, was not fated to be quite as obscure a figure as Cournot had been. Cournot's work had foreshadowed uncannily the postmodernist transcription of Condorcet's triumphantly modernist message into the sober terms of subsequent centuries. Koj`eve reshaped the Hegelian version of the progress theory (or more accurately, elements of it) in the spirit of structural postmodernism for a generation still shocked by World War I and facing virulent ideological conflicts. For that role, his life prepared him exceedingly well. Koj`eve's work was created in the politically and intellectually turbulent Europe that had seen a sharp decline in the persuasive force of the progress view. The word crisis began to be affixed to the connotations of progress and its vision of Western culture's future. With the actual present as well as the expectations for the future lacking sufficient promise, intellectuals were receptive to views of the past that no longer suggested a story of a steady human ascendancy to a greater rationality.

Keywords:   Koj`eve, structural postmodernism, progress theory, Western culture, rationality, ideological conflicts

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