Who is Louis Althusser?June 25, 2021
Louis Pierre Althusser (October 16, 1918 – October 23, 1990) was a Marxist thinker.
He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Superieure, where he would later become a professor of philosophy. He was a leading academic spokesman for the French Communist Party, and his arguments were a response to various opposing claims to the ideological foundation of the socialist project.
These included both the influence of empiricism/empiricism that began to affect Marxist social science and economics, and the growing interest in humanistic and democratic socialist orientations that began to cause division in the European Communist Parties. Althusser has been widely regarded as a Structuralist Marxist thinker, although his relation to the other French schools of Structuralism was not simply of interest and he brought serious criticism of the thought of Structuralism.
Althusser’s early work includes the impressive Reading Capital, which brings together an intense philosophical re-reading of Karl Marx’s Capital by Althusser and his students. The book reflects the philosophical situation and object of Marxist theory as a “critique of political economy”. The English translation of this work includes only the writings of Althusser and Étienne Balibar, while the original French book also includes additional articles by Jacques Ranciere, Pierre Macherey, and others. The project is very similar to the contemporary psychoanalytic return to Freud undertaken by Jacques Lacan, with whom Althusser was closely associated, within Marxism. (Althusser’s personal and professional relationship with Lacan was very complex; the two were sometimes very close friends and sometimes enemies.) Many of Althusser’s theoretical positions were highly influential in Marxist philosophy, although he sometimes deliberately exaggerated his arguments to provoke contradiction. In About the Young Marx, Althusser used a term borrowed from the philosopher of science Gaston Bachelard to describe the “epistemological break” between the “Hegel and Feuerbach-influenced” writings of the Young Marx and his later Marxist writings.
His work, Marxism and Humanism, set forth a strong anti-humanist thesis of Marxist theory, debunking ideas such as “human potential” and “human nature” that are often put forward by Marxists as reflections of humanism, a bourgeois ideology. In Contradiction and Overdetermination, Althusser is better known as an ideology theorist, borrowing the idea of overdetermination from psychoanalysis (quite close to Antonio Gramsci’s idea of hegemony) to replace the idea of ”contradiction” with a more complex model of multiple causality in political situations. His best-known work is Ideology and the Ideological State Apparatuses: Notes to an Investigation. The study also forms the scope of ideology based on Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. Where hegemony is ultimately entirely constituted by political forces, ideology uses the unconscious and mirror-phase thoughts of Freud and Jacques Lacan, respectively, and defines the structures and systems that it allows us to access with meaningful content. For Althusser, these structures represent both repression and inevitability – it is impossible to escape ideology and being its object. The distinction between ideology and science or philosophy cannot be made at once and for all by the epistemological break: this “break” is not a chronologically provided event, but a functioning. Instead of a final victory, there is a constant struggle against ideology: ideology has no history.
The final condition of production is the reproduction of the conditions of production. This reproduction takes place through the reproduction of the forces of production (labour) and the reproduction of existing reproduction relations. The reproduction of the relations of production takes place with the Ideological Devices of the State.
According to Althusser, society consists of economic, political and ideological practices. Here, Althusser defines practice as the communication process of a certain product, using certain means of production, influenced by certain human labor.
According to Althusser, capitalism reproduces the conditions of production as a productive system. Reproduction is the continuation of the labor force obeying the rules of order. Producing the workforce requires the family, learning the mastery and techniques requires the education and training system.
The state is the structure that ensures that social production is done with the consent of the whole society and that the capital and the ruling class bloc maintain their hegemony in the long run. The apparatuses in which production is made are State Ideological Devices (IDA), whether they are organized by the state or not.
– What is the epistemological break?
– State ideological apparatuses
– Althusser’s contributions to philosophy
Some Selected Works
His Existing Works in Turkish
– Montesquieu Politics and History İthaki Publications
– İthaki Publications for Marx İthaki Publications
– Ithaki Publications on Re-Production
– Articles on Art 1 Philosophical and Political Articles İthaki Publications