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The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings [Paperback]

Louis Althusser , Franois Matheron , Francois Matheron
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

17 Aug 2003
There can be little doubt that Louis Althusser was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century and his work lives on in many of the concepts currently deployed in disciplines such as cultural studies, social theory and literary criticism. Yet Althusser was also a leading intellectual in the French Communist Party and a foremost participant in the debates in the human sciences that are marked by the names of Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Lacan and Georges Canguilhem. His writings were major interventions in a specific political and theoretical conjuncture and it is this that this new collection of previously untranslated texts seeks to reflect. Consisting of writings from the very height of Althusser's intellectual powers, during the period 1966-67, this book covers, amongst other themes, the critique of Levi-Strauss's structuralism, the theory of discourse and its relationship to psychoanalysis, the tasks of Marxist philosophy, and the famous "humanist controversy".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (17 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859844081
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859844083
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 13.4 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 959,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Louis Althusser was born in Algeria in 1918 and died in Paris in 1990. Among his other works translated into English are For Marx, Reading Capital, Machiavelli and Us, and The Spectre of Hegel, all published by Verso.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A dig through the archives 3 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
This selection of previously-unpublished writings is of great interest to people who want seriously to engage with Althusser's work. It documents a transitional period in his oeuvre, from the pathbreaking early essays to the rather convoluted period of self-criticism that would last until his most infamous breakdown and murder of his wife.

Here we have the genesis of many of his most famous formulations, particularly as regards the theory of ideological state apparatuses and interpellation. There is also a deal of interesting material on Marx's relationship with Hegel, which reveal a far more nuanced picture than either Althusser's critics or his own earlier works would indicate.

The accompanying introduction and notes from translator G.M. Goshgarian are highly useful as well, and one wonders ruefully how much more sensible discussions around this figure, the bete noire of the vulgar Hegelians who so dominate academic Marxism today, would be if the latter could somehow be cajoled to read Goshgarian's commentary en masse.

That said, it is not one to start off with - the classics (Reading Capital, For Marx and Lenin and Philosophy) should be dealt with first.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important Contribution 5 Dec 2009
By Steiner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This collection of largely unread work marks the 'classic' phase of Althusser's intellectual output, the period of the middle 60's. There are some fascinating essays here which have apparently escaped the notice of much of the mainstream commentary regarding his work. His critique of Levi-Strauss in particular is a major attempt to distance himself from structuralist theory. Additionally, 'The Historical Task of Marxist Philosophy' is a major attempt to outline the scientificity of historical materialism and to provide the theoretical details that his 'Lenin and Philosophy' often lacked. However, 'The Humanist Controversy' for me provides no radically new ideas from the work in 'For Marx.'
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