Full Text

Althusser, Louis (1918–90)


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


French Communist philosopher. One of the most notable Marxist theoreticians of the postwar period, Althusser's comprehensive reconstruction of Marxist philosophy and social theory won him a large intellectual following throughout Western Europe and Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. In For Marx and Reading “Capital” (1965), Althusser and his collaborators (including Etienne B alibar and Pierre M acherey ) subjected actually existing Marxism to swingeing critique on account of its alleged H egelianism . According to Althusser, the seemingly antithetical traditions of orthodox M arxism (Kautsky or Stalin) and Western Marxism (L ukáacs or S artre ) exhibited the common vice of H istoricism . Whether in the guise of economism or H umanism , both tendencies cancelled Marx's departure from the German idealism of his youth by construing historical materialism as a philosophy of history. As pseudo-materialist inversions of Hegelian theodicy, they each depicted human history as an expressive totality or process, with an origin, a center, a subject, and a goal. Economism – typical of Stalinist orthodoxy from the mid-1920s – constituted a technological D eterminism , positing a metanarrative of the advance of the productive forces towards an ineluctable communism. Humanism – characteristic of the anti-Stalinist reaction in the 1950s and 1960s – represented a teleological philosophical ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top