Vittoria Ceretti, Margaret Qualley, Stella Tennant, Jacquetta Wheeler, Frederikke Sofie, Fei Fei Sun, Jean Campbell, Alicia Burke, Lulu & Cameron Russell for Ralph Lauren “The Icons Collection”, campaign 2016.
By Steven Meisel
Alexandre Kojève (Kozhevnikov) (1902-1968). Russian stalinist, one of the fathers of EU, a philosopher at the origins of the postmodern theory.
Kojève was born in Russia in a wealthy and prosperous family (by the way, his uncle was Kandinsky). He emigrated to Germany in 1919 where he studied philosophy and wrote a dissertation based on Vladimir Solovyov under Karl Jaspers. Later he moved to France. There he read lectures on Hegel’s “The phenomenology of Spirit” declaring that he added nothing to the work. But that was a lie - his philosophy was only partly based on Hegel (much was from Solovyov).
The main point of his philosophy was the advent of the post-history. The history ended after the French revolution and Napoleon because then sages understood what was the ideal of human existence - the universal, secular and homogenous state where everybody’s desires are recognized and satisfied. So he end of history is not in the future, it has already occurred in the past. Now it’s time for romantic bureaucrats who must run and maintain this state. The human loses his humanity and returns to the animal condition. The only way to preserve humanity is to sacrifice your life for nothing, for pure form (as he believed his uncle did). The ideal for him in this regard was Japan.
Also Kojève called himself Stalinist (and even wrote a letter to him in 1940 because he wanted to return) because he believed that Soviet Russia was a state of philosophers - Stalin’s main aim was to develop self-awareness of its citizens.
Because the ideal was known, there is no place for romantic philosophers seeking for utopia. After the WWII Kojève became a statesman and worked out the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
Despite the fact, that Kojève is not very well-known philosopher beyond academic circles, his lectures considered to be legendary and very influential - George Bataiile, Jacques Lacan (he considered Kojève to be his single teacher) visited it, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre read its text, Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida were influenced by his ideas.
So, Kojève united Western and Russian philosophical traditions.