Althusser and His Contemporaries: Philosophy’s Perpetual War by Warren Montag

By Warren Montag

Althusser and His Contemporaries alters and expands figuring out of Louis Althusser and French philosophy of the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies. hundreds of thousands of pages of formerly unpublished paintings from diverse sessions of Althusser's occupation were made to be had in French when you consider that his demise in 1990. in line with meticulous research of the philosopher's posthumous courses, in addition to his unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, letters, and marginalia, Warren Montag offers a thoroughgoing reevaluation of Althusser's philosophical undertaking.

Montag indicates that the theorist used to be intensely engaged with the paintings of his contemporaries, quite Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, and Lacan. interpreting Althusser's philosophy as a chain of encounters together with his peers' suggestion, Montag contends that Althusser's significant philosophical confrontations revolved round 3 issues: constitution, topic, and beginnings and endings. examining Althusser studying his contemporaries, Montag sheds new mild on structuralism, poststructuralism, and the extreme second of French proposal within the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies.

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Althusser’s identification in 1962 of Montesquieu as the founding moment of structuralism’s prehistory makes visible the way in which his analysis of some of Montesquieu’s key concepts, notably those of law, spirit, nature, and principle, is simultaneously a meditation on what he will later explicitly identify as the central problems of structuralism. Montesquieu, according to Althusser, wished in his treatment of history to avoid both a narrative of facts, whose diversity can only be described but never explained, and a narrative of essences in which all that does not correspond to the norm is declared unintelligible.

The task of philosophy, he will argue, is to establish the foundation of the objectivity to which even the most skeptical claims must allude. ” To ask whether such a science is possible, implying that it does not exist and nullifying the knowledge heretofore produced, rather than to ask what is the foundation of the knowledge that we already possess, of the theory that is already at work and producing results, is to reproduce Kant’s exclusion of metaphysics as the possible object of a science. ” Kant, Althusser writes, “showed that it is meaningless to speak of an object outside of the very conditions of objectivity.

Finally, though, Hegel cannot escape from the consequences of his “solution” to the pluralism that inescapably threatens the intelligibility of Montesquieu’s totality. The very negativity that ceaselessly converts difference into identity and reduces diversity to simplicity leads Hegel’s dialectic into an impasse in which he will find himself in distinguished company. It is this impasse that, according to Althusser, makes Hegelian philosophy directly relevant to some of the most notorious dilemmas of structuralism.

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