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 keeping with this, Simon Clarke points out (in his critique of the Althusserian school) that:
In this short commentary, I will be largely concerned with an unjustly neglected product of this Althusserian period: Hindess's Philosophy and Methodology in the Social Sciences.
The many different versions of Marxism, including early Hegelian Marxism, structuralist or Althusserian Marxism, poststructuralist Marxism, Frankfurt School Marxism, analytic Marxism, feminist Marxism, and so on, have raised many questions about Marx's or Lukacs' traditional Marxism, but Ebert assumes that they do not merit debate or evaluation even though Lukacs, of course, consistently revised his views in the face of the successful Russian revolution as well as the triumph of Stalinism.
Black liberals and leftists repeatedly assert that race is a socially constructed fiction, but then trump the liberatory possibilities of this insight by invoking the ubiquitous Althusserian (and literal) policeman, a ceaselessly hailing figure who essentially reinstates "a metaphysics of difference in which Black Americans are refigured as animated objects, noble victims, the vaguely discernible subaltern, the never fully articulate other" (148).
There are those who are chosen, who submit to the Fanonian gaze or the Althusserian command and thus burden themselves with the racial epidermal schema Frantz Fanon describes with such eloquence in Black Skin, White Masks.
However, it would not be long before more and more people were drawn into the debate about the political implications of Gramsci's theory, in particular the issues related to political agency, intellectual freedom, the primacy of politics and the links between culture and politics, all of which clearly defied some of the premises of the Althusserian system.
What Hewlett shows is that none of the philosophers in question has successfully renegotiated the Althusserian problematic of 'the subject', and that they all consequently fail to provide a convincing account of emancipatory praxis.
The more complex understanding of the constitution of identity through the specific example of Althusserian interpellation delves into Butler's full psychological study of the origin of the subject in subjection.
From Althusserian ideology to Agamben's theory of sovereignty as the state of exception, a superficial democracy conceals or accompanies a violent social administration.
In the Althusserian sense then, the patriarchal impulse could be referred to, albeit monolithically or as a totality, as the ideology of gender, which has, in the West, been often maintained with the aid of the colonial impulse which here becomes the ideology of race relations, and the capitalist impulse, which can be read as the ideology of economic profit.
It is worth noting that Derrida takes up this Althusserian position in his Spectres of Marx, trans.
later, the bombshell came with the publication of Mystifying Movies: Fads and Fallacies in Film Studies, a book which critiqued and ultimately dismissed the then-reigning paradigm of film theory, a meld of Lacanian psychoanalysis, Althusserian Marxism, and Barthesian semiotics.