No figure among the western Marxist theoreticians has loomed larger in the postwar period than Louis Althusser. A rebel against the Catholic tradition in which he was raised, Althusser studied philosophy and later joined both the faculty of the Ecole normal superieure and the French Communist Party in 1948. Viewed as a "structuralist Marxist," Althusser was as much admired for his independence of intellect as he was for his rigorous defense of Marx. The latter was best illustrated in For Marx (...) (1965), and Reading Capital (1968). These works, along with Lenin and Philosophy (1971) had an enormous influence on the New Left of the 1960s and continues to influence modern Marxist scholarship. This classic work, which to date has sold more than 30,000 copies, covers the range of Louis Althusser's interests and contributions in philosophy, economics, psychology, aesthetics, and political science. Marx, in Althusser's view, was subject in his earlier writings to the ruling ideology of his day. Thus for Althusser, the interpretation of Marx involves a repudiation of all efforts to draw from Marx's early writings a view of Marx as a "humanist" and "historicist." Lenin and Philosophy also contains Althusser's essay on Lenin's study of Hegel; a major essay on the state, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," "Freud and Lacan: A letter on Art in Reply to Andre Daspre," and "Cremonini, Painter of the Abstract." The book opens with a 1968 interview in which Althusser discusses his personal, political, and intellectual history. (shrink)
Reply to John Lewis: Note on "The critique of the personality cult". Remark on the category "Process without a subject or goal(s)"--Elements of self-criticism: On the evolution of the young Marx.--Is it simple to be a Marxist in philosophy? "Something new".
Theory, theoretical practice, and theoretical formation -- On theoretical work -- Philosophy and the spontaneous philosophy of the scientists (1967) -- Lenin and philosophy -- Is it simple to be a Marxist in philosophy? -- The transformation of philosophy -- Marxism today.
The first publication of seminal early writing by Louis Althusser. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Louis Althusser enjoyed virtually unrivalled status as the foremost living Marxist philosopher. Today, he is remembered as the scourge and severest critic of "humanist" or Hegelian Marxism, as the proponent of rigorously scientific socialism, and as the theorist who posited a sharp rupture—an epistemological break—between the early and the late Marx. This collection of texts from the period 1945-1953 turns these interpretations of Althusser on their (...) head: we discover that there was a "young Althusser" as well as the "mature Althusser" we are already familiar with. In his fascinating Master's thesis, "On Content in the Thought of G.W.F. Hegel" (1947), Althusser developed a position which he was later to attack ferociously: namely, that the revolutionary potential of the Hegelian dialectic could be defended against Hegel's own political conservatism. We see Althusser still wrestling with the spectres of Hegel and of Catholicism in another long text, his letter to Jean Lacroix, and, finally, we see his own "epistemological break" in the piece "On Marxism" from 1953. Other texts included are his critique of Alexander KojÅve (whose interpretation Francis Fukoyama has recently revived) and his attack on the French Church's teachings on women, sex and the family. Widely recognized as an intellectual giant of the late twentieth century, Althusser has left a towering legacy. This collection not only gives a unique insight into the formation of such a personality, but will also restore the "unknown Althusser" to the centre of the history of Marxism and of philosophy since the Second World War. (shrink)
With several never-before published writings, this volume gathers Althusser's major essays on psychoanalytic thought----documenting his intense and ambivalent relationship with Lacan, and dramatizing his intellectual journey and troubled ...
Writings on History brings together a selection of texts by Louis Althusser dating from 1963 to 1986, including essays, a lecture, notes to his collaborators, and the transcript of an informal 1963 discussion of literary history. These writings are concerned with the place of history in Marxist theory--Provided by publisher.
In How to Be a Marxist in Philosophy one of the most famous Marxist philosophers of the 20th century shares his concept of what it means to function fruitfully as a political thinker within the discipline and environs of philosophy. This is the first English translation to Althusser's provocative and, often, controversial guide to being a true Marxist philosopher. Althusser argues that philosophy needs Marxism. It can't exist fully without it. Similarly, Marxism requires the rigour and structures of philosophy to (...) give it form and focus. He calls all thinking people to, 'Remember: a philosopher is a man who fights in theory, and when he understands the reasons for this fight, he joined the ranks of the struggle of workers and popular classes.' In short, this book comprises Althusser's elucidation of what praxis means and why it continues to matter. With a superb introduction from translator and Althusser archivist G.M. Goshgarian, this is a book that will re-inspire contemporary Marxist thought and reinvigorate our notions of what political activism can be. (shrink)
Althusser delivered these lectures on Rousseau's Discourse on the Origins of Inequality at the École normale supérieure in Paris in 1972. They are fascinating for two reasons. First, they gave rise to a new generation of Rousseau scholars, attentive not just to Rousseau's ideas, but also to those of his concepts that were buried beneath metaphors or fictional situations and characters. Second, we are now discovering that the "late Althusser's" theses about aleatory materialism and the need to break with the (...) strict determinism of theories of history in order to devise a new philosophy "for Marx" were being worked out well before 1985 in this reading of Rousseau dating from twelve years earlier, which introduces into Rousseau's text the ideas of the void, the accident, the take, and the necessity of contingency. (shrink)
The philosophical conjuncture and Marxist theoretical research -- On Lévi-Strauss -- Three notes on the theory of discourses -- On Feuerbach -- The historical task of Marxist philosophy -- The humanist controversy.
This text derives from a recording, and transcripts, of the introduction which Althusser gave on 6 December 1963, to a seminar for students in the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, offered at his invitation by Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron. Althusser takes the opportunity to raise questions about the status of social science and suggests that Bourdieu and Passeron represent slightly different strands of contemporary research practice, partly as a result of their different formation and practice since themselves leaving the École. (...) Althusser first considers the relation between the human sciences and the traditionally instituted Faculty of Letters or Humanities. What is the origin of the compulsion to constitute a science of human relations? Given that the social sciences have established themselves, Althusser then tries to define their nature. He suggests that they have three forms: as abstract and general theory, as ethnology, and as empirical sociology. He discusses the pros and cons of each in some detail. Althusser then asks what are the features which constitute sciences and concludes that they must always possess discrete theoretical perspectives corresponding with discrete components of reality but must also possess an element of self-referentiality or, as he puts it, must be objects to themselves. Althusser suggests that his contemporary social sciences are not philosophically adequate by the criteria which he advances. He proceeds to introduce Bourdieu and Passeron in such a way as to invite consideration of whether their practices meet his criteria. (shrink)