Althusser, Louis (1918–90)
Kenneth H. Tucker, Jr.
Sociological and Social Theory
1000 - 1999
ideology, Marxist theory
Louis Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher, best known for his structuralist reinterpretation of Marxism in the 1960s. He was also important as a strong intellectual influence on many of the poststructuralist authors such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida, who became central figures in social scientific and literary studies in Europe and the US in the 1970s. In two of his major books, Lire le Capital (1965), translated as Reading Capital , and Pour Marx (1965), translated as For Marx , Althusser criticized the overly romantic versions of Marxism that became prominent in the 1960s. He was particularly disparaging of the “humanist” Marxism of thinkers such as Antonio Gramsci and the Frankfurt School, who viewed Marx as a theorist of alienation concerned with the quality of life under capitalism. For Althusser, this romantic Marxism undermined Marx as a scientist. In Althusser's view, Marx attempted to scientifically analyze the capitalist mode of production, as well as other forms of social organization. While Marx was concerned with issues such as alienation in his writings as a young man, including the Paris Manuscripts of 1844 , this was a youthful folly which Marx abandoned after 1845. Althusser labels this intellectual change in Marx's writings an epistemological break , as Marx moved from romanticism to science, culminating in his masterwork ... log in or subscribe to read full text
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