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 ?
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.
58) In constructing this Marx, Althusserianism produces a figure who necessitates a new theoretical effort as a rescue mission.
64) Drawing Althusser to work on symptomatic concepts, the sinthome thus produces Althusserianism as a new development in the history of Marxist 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.
Surely it is no benefit, since once 'ianisation' has started, it inevitably multiplies itself, as it has for the work of Louis Althusser (1918-1990), resulting in Althusserian, post-Althusserian, non-Althusserian, Althusserianism and post-Althusserianism.
The challenge to Althusserianism usually revolves around a critique of the structuralist concept of social totality in which ideology is viewed as a super-structural instance of the social formation, albeit an instance with its own historicity'.