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.

WORKS

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

M. K. MAMARDASHVILI

References in periodicals archive ?
Connell's critique of Althusserianism in its French and British varieties, including the influential works of "cultural studies" associated with the Birmingham School, unpacked and unmade the key assumptions of structuralism.
Like Callinicos, Zizek finds this focus to be the limitation of Althusserianism, but on very different grounds.
But Althusserianism has nonetheless been caught up in the dynamics of enjoyment, first of all in its reception, which has taken the form of a non-reception, a premature disappearance from the theoretical scene.
The later chapters of Geoghegan's book give compelling accounts of Rudolph Bahro and Andre Gorz, much more recent thinkers who have perhaps received less attention in the Anglophone world than is their due, overshadowed as they have been either by Althusserianism or the resurgence of interest in figures such as Benjamin and Adorno.
Here, caustically, Thompson refers to Althusserianism as a general police action within ideology, as Stalinism at the level of theory.
I was then going through a phase of high Althusserianism and rather boldly suggested his conception of the economy and class relationships was more Adam Smith than Karl Marx, and to sharpen the accusation, pressed home the charge of economic reductionism.
In fact, the originality of his intellectual and political trajectory might best be thought of, as Badiou suggested at Cerisy, as a kind of prolonged formalization of the experience of 1968, when students like Ranciere, trained in the Althusserian science of revolution (a knowing science that must be transmitted to an unknowing "people") watched Althusserianism go up in flames on the barricades, as the "people" themselves took collective matters into their own hands.
For while there is no point in denying its declining influence during the 1980s and 1990s, Althusserianism has exhibited an impressive 'staying power' in the face of more recent post-structuralist, postmodernist trends.
In the first case, the development of the theory of ideology through the vicissitudes of the Frankfurt School, Althusserianism and Jameson leave the rudimentary concept of false consciousness far behind.
If the theoretical prestige of Althusserianism in corners of western Europe had been connected with the passing prestige of the Chinese cultural revolution in the '60s and '70s, the sharp decline of it a decade or so later was equally closely connected with the passing of modish Maoism in Paris and the elimination of the Gang of Four within China itself.
Hirst, in the constitution, exploration, and later the self-criticism of British Althusserianism.
Eagleton irritates Goodheart particularly, but he takes Eagleton's Althusserianism as the whole and does not distinguish oppositions within the 'contemporary scene' (which he calls 'postmodern', 'a vacuous term' (p.