Louis Althusser

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Althusser, Louis


Born Oct. 16, 1918, in Algiers. French Marxist philosopher and member of the French Communist Party. Professor at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Writer of essays on the history of philosophy, the theory of knowledge, and dialectical and historical materialism. (The collection, For Marx, 1965, which contains Althusser’s historical and philosophical writings; To Read “Capital,” 1965, written with J. Rancière and P. Macherey.)

Althusser treats the problems of the dialectic as logic, primarily on the basis of an analysis of the conceptual philosophic structure of Capital. He concentrates his attention on the theoretical and cognitive tasks that arise in studying the structure of integrated developing systems. He stresses the radical novelty of Marx’s method of thinking, distinguishing it sharply both from the Hegelian method (he rejects the formula “Hegel stood on his head” as the characteristic of the relationship between Marx and Hegel) and from the humanistic anthropological interpretation of Marxism. Althusser’s views are usually regarded as similar to the ideas of structuralism. Althusser and his co-workers are also elaborating a theory of knowledge (a so-called historical epistemology) and a theory of historicophilosophical method.


Lire le Capital, vol. 1–2. Paris, 1965. (With J. Rancière and P. Macherey.)
Pour Marx, 2nd ed. Paris, 1966.


References in periodicals archive ?
In the 1970s and 1980s, the advent of neo-Marxism (in particular Althusserian structuralism) proved fertile ground for theorising a genuinely materialist conception of literature.
Furthermore, the role of the flag in the promotion of national identity can be understood through the prism of Althusserian process of identification, through which individuals become "concrete subjects".
It would not be generally known, for instance, that in 1980, two years after Orientalism's publication, Said's focus in his graduate teaching at Columbia University was the postwar British left--not the New Left that would emerge through the "Sixty-Eightist" sympathies of the Althusserian turn, but the old left of former Communist Party members and public scholars, who between 1950 and 1975 had altered the landscape of historical inquiry in Britain and who had laid the groundwork for what would later become known as "cultural studies.
I imagine that academics under fifty years of age are now more likely to associate this period with Foucault's disastrous interventions in European discussions of the Iranian revolution than with Thompson's musings on Althusserian theoretical practice, and I can't help but wonder if this is how it should be.
The substantive basis for Thompson's objections to such thinking was elaborated more fully and famously in the powerful 'The poverty of theory' (1978), in which he skewered Althusserian thinking and reprised his arguments against Anderson and Nairn.
It has three chief constituents: deconstructive epistemology; Freudian psychology in a textualized Lacanian form; and Marxist social theory in a textualized Althusserian or Jamesonian form.
Therefore, his intention was to express his disagreement with the Althusserian view of the agent reduced to the role of the structure support, as well as of the homo economicus coming from the consciousness philosophy and of the methodological individualism ((BOURDIEU, 2010; BOURDIEU, 2007a).
If we compare Fincher's film once more with Oplev's, we see how the latter frequently employs what we might call an "interpellative" montage aesthetic (to re-appropriate the old Althusserian term) in place of the former's "processual" one.
Smith underscores the similarity between Freud's interpretation of dreams and the Althusserian notion of a "symptomatic reading" and calls attention to the silent discourse a text conceals: the "problematic" of the text (Smith 495-96).
Contrary to the Althusserian contention that ideology is a historical and fixed, history and cultural context are injected into matters of subjectification (Therborn, 1980).
There the focus is on the means by which counterpublic identity is constituted by communication itself: counterpublic theory in this regard resembles the Althusserian notion of interpellation in that publics (counter and otherwise) come into being through a constitutive greeting, even as they are addressed as if they preexist the communicative exchange.