Althusser: The Detour of Theory (2nd Edition) (Historical by Gregory Elliott

By Gregory Elliott

First released in 1987, Althusser, The Detour of conception used to be commonly acquired because the fullest account of its topic up to now. Drawing on quite a lot of hitherto untranslated fabric, it tested the political and highbrow contexts of Althusser’s ‘return to Marx’ within the mid-1960s; analysed the radical personality of the Marxism constructed in his significant works; charted their author’s next evolution, from his self-criticism to the proclamation of a ‘crisis of Marxism’; and concluded with a balance-sheet of Althusser’s contribution to ancient materialism.

For this moment variation, Gregory Elliott has additional a considerable postscript within which he surveys the posthumous version of the French philosopher’s paintings released within the Nineteen Nineties, from the early writings of the Nineteen Forties via to the overdue texts of the Eighties, referring to the unknown Althusser published by way of them to the generic determine of For Marx and examining Capital, including a complete bibliography of Althusser’s oeuvre.


[…]The Detour of conception needs to be counted as among the simplest biographies of a postwar Marxist; Elliott, intimately, tracks Althusser’s varied positions through the years at the nature of philosophy and its relation to technology and historic materialism.
Simon Chilvers, Macquarie college, assessment of Radical Political Economics, March 2011, forty three: 115-117

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Extra resources for Althusser: The Detour of Theory (2nd Edition) (Historical Materialism Book Series, Volume 13)

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37 A third early text, ‘On the Objectivity of History’ (1955) – an open letter to Paul Ricoeur – also treated an issue which would preoccupy Althusser: the question of the foundation of a science of history. Reproving Raymond Aron for relativism, he argued that history possessed a similar ‘rationality’ to that of the natural sciences. Ricoeur was to be commended for demonstrating that: the level of history is not that of immediate experience, that history as science is not – and cannot be – a resurrection of the past, that historical science is a knowledge of history.

33 This did not amount to proof of the common charge of ‘metaphysical materialism’ entered against Marxism, however, since for dialectical materialism it ‘is not for a metaphysics of nature to deduce the structure of reality; it is the role of the 29 Althusser 1997, p. 246. Althusser 1997, p. 247. The bibliography provided by Althusser of ‘the most important of the Marxist texts dealing with this subject’ is standard for the period – with the interesting (and proleptic) exception of Mao’s On Contradiction.

Humanism was precisely the specious theoretical formation with which Marx and Engels had decisively begun to part company in The German Ideology in 1845. Its modern protagonists were consequently engaged not simply in an inaccurate exercise in Marxology, but in an erasure of the distinction between Marxism-as-science and Marxism-as-ideology, between Marx himself and his own ideological past, between Capital (the Marx that mattered) and the early works (most seductive of all the mirages in the postStalin theoretical desert).

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