Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays
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No figure among the western Marxist theoreticians has loomed larger in the postwar period than Louis Althusser. A rebel against the Catholic tradition in which he was raised, Althusser studied philosophy and later joined both the faculty of the Ecole normal superieure and the French Communist Party in 1948. Viewed as a "structuralist Marxist," Althusser was as much admired for his independence of intellect as he was for his rigorous defense of Marx. The latter was best illustrated in For Marx (1965), and Reading Capital (1968). These works, along with Lenin and Philosophy (1971) had an enormous influence on the New Left of the 1960s and continues to influence modern Marxist scholarship.
This classic work, which to date has sold more than 30,000 copies, covers the range of Louis Althusser's interests and contributions in philosophy, economics, psychology, aesthetics, and political science.
Marx, in Althusser's view, was subject in his earlier writings to the ruling ideology of his day. Thus for Althusser, the interpretation of Marx involves a repudiation of all efforts to draw from Marx's early writings a view of Marx as a "humanist" and "historicist."
Lenin and Philosophy also contains Althusser's essay on Lenin's study of Hegel; a major essay on the state, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses," "Freud and Lacan: A letter on Art in Reply to André Daspre," and "Cremonini, Painter of the Abstract." The book opens with a 1968 interview in which Althusser discusses his personal, political, and intellectual history.
induce. The terms that designate the scientific and the ideological thus have to be re-thought again and again. Hence there is a history in philosophy rather than a history of philosophy: a history of the displacement of the indefinite repetition of a null trace whose effects are real. This history can be read profitably in all the great philosophers, even the idealist ones -- and in the one who sums up the whole history of philosophy, Hegel. That is why Lenin read Hegel, with astonishment -- but
volume, it is necessary to take up 'proletarian class positions', i.e. to adopt the only viewpoint which makes visible the reality of the exploitation of wage labour power, which constitutes the whole of capitalism. This is, proportionately speaking, on condition that they struggle against the influence of the burden of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology that they carry, relatively easy for workers. As 'by nature' they have a 'class instinct' formed by the harsh school of daily
Idea, which he sees as almost materialist: It is noteworthy that the whole chapter on the 'Absolute Idea' scarcely says a word about God (hardly ever has a 'divine' 'notion' slipped out accidentally) and apart from that -- this NB -- it contains almost nothing that is specifically idealism, but has for its main subject the dialectical method. The sum-total, the last word and essence of Hegel's logic is the dialectical method -- this is extremely noteworthy. And one thing more: in this most
which dominate the mind of a man or a social group. The ideologico-political struggle conducted by Marx as early as his articles in the Rheinische Zeitung inevitably and quickly brought him face to face with this reality and forced him to take his earliest intuitions further. However, here we come upon a rather astonishing paradox. Everything seems to lead Marx to formulate a theory of ideology. In fact, The German Ideology does offer us, after the 1844 Manuscripts, an explicit theory of
surrounds the expectation of a 'birth', that 'happy event'. Everyone knows how much and in what way an unborn child is expected. Which amounts to saying, very prosaically, if we agree to drop the 'sentiments', i.e. the forms of family ideology (paternal/maternal conjugal/fraternal) in which the unborn child is expected: it is certain in advance that it will bear its Father's Name, and will therefore have an identity and be irreplaceable. Before its birth, the child is therefore alwaysalready a