Noted Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos died in the early hours of Thursday in Paris at the age of 85.
Born in Athens in 1924, he attended highschool at the French Institute and German School of Athens, and later enrolled in Law School to pursue law and economics studies, but became involved in politics with the onset of WWII and joined the Greek Resistance during the German and Italian occupation, and later in the Greek Civil War.
He was inspired by the writings of Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Empedocles, Marx, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky, and the poets Rimbaud, Rilke and Holderlin.
An organiser and journalist affiliated with the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in 1941-1945, was arrested and condemned to death by the then government, but escaped after a fake ‘execution’ and incarceration in a camp, and in 1946 abandoned the communist party ranks.
At the end of 1945, with the help of then director of the French Institute in Athens Octave Merlier he boarded the legendary ship SS Mataroa to Paris. Shortly after his departure, he was sentenced to death in absentia.
In Paris, he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, and from 1950-1957 he was a researcher in the philosophy department of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CRNS), where he wrote his dissertations, before moving on to the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes.
He taught philosophy at the Sorbonne from 1962-1973, during which time he wrote his dissertation “Marx, pensure de lat technique (“Alienation, Praxis and Techne in the Thought of Karl Marx) attempting to provide an understanding of modern technology based on the thought of Heidegger and Marx, which was influential in the 1960’s.
He was a collaborator, columnist and later editor of the pioneering, at the time, magazine “Arguments” (1956-1962), and founded and, since 1960, directed, in tandem with “Arguments”, the philosophical series “Editions de Minuit”, which also published most of his own books.
Axelos has written 24 books and a plethora of texts in French, Greek and German, which have been translated into 16 languages, with “Le Jeu du Monde” (Play of the World), being his most important book, which argues for a pre-ontological status of play.
In March 2009 he was made an honorary Doctor of Philosophy of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University (AUTH), which was his last visit to Greece.