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For Marx (Verso Classics) Paperback – 24 Sep 1996

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New edition edition (24 Sept. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859841465
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859841464
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,241,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"One reads him with excitement. There is no mystery about his capacity to inspire the intelligent young."--Eric Hobsbawm"Louis Althusser traversed so many lives ... so many personal, historical, philosophical and political adventures; marked, inflected, influenced so many discourses, actions and existences by the radiant and provocative force of his thought ... that the most diverse and contradictory accounts could never exhaust their source."--Jacques Derrida

About the Author

Louis Althusser was born in Algeria in 1918 and died in France in 1990. He taught philosophy for many years at the Ecole Normale Superieur in Paris, and was a leading intellectual in the French Communist Party. His books include "For Marx"; "Reading Capital" (with Etienne Balibar); "Essays in Ideology"; "Politics and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx"; "Machiavelli and Us"; and "The Spectre of Hegel."

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
In the preface to "For Marx" Althusser states that he wrote the work in order to reinvigorate the ailing tradition of marxist criticism. I believe that it is in this light that one should understand "For Marx" and its highly controversial interpretation of Marxism as an anti-humanist and structuralist science, for by adopting this approach, Althusser negates the tradition of for example the young Georg Lukacs that emphasises the humanism/Hegelian idealism in Marx.
The success of Althusser's bid to revive Marx by, so to speak, setting up an antithesis to the prevalent view of Marxism can be seen in the influence which he has exerted over a number of (post)modern marxists critics, notably Fredric Jameson. Indeed I believe that there exists a high degree of applicability of such Althusserian concepts as "overdetermination" and "ídeology/science" to the postmodern ideological praxis.
On the negative side, I must admit that Althusser's interpretations and methods often seem artificial and somehow constructed ad hoc, and his anti-humanism also seems excessive.
Nonetheless, this does not detract from my general impression of "For Marx" as an interesting and relevant work that has not deserved the neglect which it has endured since the seventies. In sum, I am for Althusser.
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Format: Paperback
I think I would have to cite this book as the true beginning of my philosophical education. Before I had read Althusser, I don't think I really understood the idea that philosophy is essentially a field in which one has to go out and stake a claim. As a student I attempted to come to terms with his work as a reinvestigation of the Marxist concept of ideology and the notion that Marx's work represents an epistemological break with the conceptions of history and political economy elaborated before him. For Marx is a text which, if read seriously, will open up a reading of Marx and a notion of philosophy that will affect the reader's theoretical and practical investigations from that point onward. I would not advise anyone to take For Marx as a full statement of Althusser's project, however, nor even supplemented by 'Reading Capital'. As Alain Badiou has argued, Althusser's work is impenetrable if it is considered as a 'case' of Marxism. The dedicated student will have to reference back and forth from the lesser known texts in 'The Humanist Controversy', 'Essays on Ideology', 'Lenin and Philosophy' and (I would recommend) perhaps supplement this with some material from Andrew Collier's (now almost forgotten) interventions in Critical Realism. For myself I remain convinced that Althusser's work represents the pinnacle of intellectual commitment - something not to be tarnished by his unfortunate personal history - and I commend this text to any student of history, politics or philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
This is pithy, accessible and thoughtful writing. Althusser ranges widely, and sets out the observations his later essays were to develop on. He lays out forcefully the late twentieth-century's key opposition to so-called "humanism" (that intolerant and limiting pretence that "we know" what it is to be human) which had licensed high-handedness among those who deformed Marxism into a doctrinaire line, and with this he opens onto areas of feelingful but unsentimental enquiry still to be fully explored. It's worth remembering Althusser was above all an educationalist, and that his pupils include Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Etienne Balibar and Alain Badiou. It's often a mark of very great teachers that each of their pupils thinks diferently, and so for sure did Althusser's. This collection of early pieces gives a fair sense as to how enlivening it must have been to learn in the company of a mind as focused and generous as his was. Warmly recommended, not least for its scope and openness.
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