Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Jeff Love's "The Black Circle"

Jeff Love is Research Professor of German and Russian at Clemson University. He is the author of The Overcoming of History in “War and Peace” (2004), editor of Heidegger in Russia and Eastern Europe (2017), and translator of Kojève’s Atheism, among other works.

Love applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Black Circle: A Life of Alexandre Kojeve, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book concludes a chapter on two important Russian thinkers preceding Kojève, Vladimir Soloviev (1853-1900) and Nikolai Fedorov (1829-1903). On that page I conclude my discussion of Fedorov’s main project, which still has the power to stun. For Fedorov sought nothing less than the complete eradication of human conflict in favor of a greater conflict, that between the human being and the “blind” nature which kills and destroys, bringing death into the world. Fedorov develops this project of overcoming nature and death as one of universal resurrection and eternal life for all human beings who have ever lived. This immense, perhaps absurd “bio-political” project provides a fine example of the pursuance of perfection that is a key issue in the book and in Kojève’s thought. Kojève seeks, ostensibly in pursuit of Hegel, to complete or “perfect” the “error” of history as understood hitherto. In a distant echo of Fedorov, Kojève insists that only by overcoming nature, and therewith the inherently selfish fear of death, may we truly correct and complete history whose final goal is the creation of a universal free state. This state is universal and free precisely because it has terminated the attachment to the individual self and self-interest that gave birth to error in the complete immersion of the individual in the state and the state in the individual. Here is at once a project of revolutionary and post-revolutionary action that sees the only way of creating a community as mutual suppression of individual self-interest rather than its cultivation (in contrast to the modern bourgeois nation state). Kojève notes tartly that the supposedly free individual of this latter state is in fact deeply in thrall to fear (the “instinct” for self-preservation, the wellspring of selfishness) and the greatest of all fears, that of death, which, as Kojève reminds us elsewhere, happens only to individuals.
Learn more about The Black Circle at the Columbia University Press website.

My Book, The Movie: The Black Circle.

--Marshal Zeringue