Louis Althusser

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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