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For Marx

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,359 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A milestone in the development of post-war Marxist thought.

This is the work in which Louis Althusser formulated some of his most influential ideas. For Marx, first published in France in 1968, has come to be regarded as the founding text of the school of “structuralist Marxism” which was presided over by the fascinating and enigmatic figure of Louis Althusser. Structuralis
Paperback, Verso Radical Thinkers, 259 pages
Published January 17th 2006 by Verso (first published 1965)
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William West
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The essential task that Louis Althusser devoted his philosophical career, and this book most pointedly, to was rescuing what he understood as the science of Marxism from the philosophical musings of the young Marx, which Althusser believed constituted neither Marxist science nor philosophy. Althusser felt this was an imperative task, as he hoped that what he deemed to be Marxist science could transform humanity's relationship to ideology. Marxism would only be allowed to perform this heroic serv ...more
David M
'Each science, as science, has in advance projected a field of objects such that to know them is to govern them.' - Gadamer, Truth and Method

'If anyone should think he has solved the problem of life and feels like telling himself that everything is quite easy now, he can see that he is wrong just by recalling that there was a time when this "solution" had not been discovered; but it must have been possible to live then too.'- Wittgenstein, stray remarks

Gadamer was not claiming hermeneutics as a
Jan 10, 2018 rated it liked it
It always seems a little harsh to comment on the readability of an author you have only read in translation, but suffice to safe this is not an easy book. That said, I did find the texts easier as I went through; whether that's something to do with them, or just me getting used to Althusser's style, I can't say.

Nevertheless, I am sure this is a book which would reward re-reading, as there were a number of points which I did find helpful on questions like base/superstructure, although I think I'd
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Classic Althusser, highlights include Contradiction and Overdetermination, The Piccolo Teatro and On The Materialist Dialectic. To my shame, I sped through most of this book, and what concepts are contained within I had navigated retroactively through Althusser's later works (a reading which he might condemn), though the chase and the game of doubles we embark here are as pointed as ever. It's also nice to see him articulate so potently towards his critics.
Michael A.
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of 7 essays by Althusser, and as such there is not particularly an overarching thesis connecting all of them. There are however important ideas elucidated in them. Perhaps his most famous one is the "epistemological break", a term inherited from Bachelard, that posits in 1845 during the German Ideology Marx broke off from his Kantian-Fichtean/Feuerbachian roots and started developing historical and dialectical materialism. This was not in an instant, however, as it took roug ...more
Andiev Sultan
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: marxism
One of the most important piecies of Western Marxism. While nowadays most parts of this book may sound dubious (because Althusser project did't last) it gives solid foundations for understanding how Althusser 'mis'reading of Marx gave such fruiutful results.
Slava Skobeloff
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Reading the reviews for the book it seems that Althusser has certainly confused a lot of people--I don't particularly think Althusser is a philosopher who is difficult to read, and in fact, he falls on the easier side compared with his French contemporaries (and of course, the ridiculous prose that would be the French post-structuralist movement). It only requires a cursory knowledge both of Marx and Hegel (although some familiarity with traditional Marxist terminology is required, i.e 'base/sup ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although the chatter about this book is that you just have to drag it along until you reach "Marxism and Humanism", the last essay, and then the whole thing becomes clear, is a little misleading. The most challenging of essays collected here is "On the Materialist Dialectic" which also contains the most rigorous philosophical effort in the book. "Contradiction and Overdetermination", "Marxism and Humanism" and "On the Materialistic Dialectic" should be the order to read the three most important ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, marxism
Maybe I need to read this another two or three times because, honestly, I do not think I can reproduce, or even faithfully summarize the arguments made by Althusser. So here is not a review, but just a few impressions and comments.

The book consists of a set of articles written by Althusser in the early 60s, mostly for the Communist press. This was in the very early post-Stalinist period, following the 20th party congress at which Khruschev denounced Stalinism and vowed to take socialism along a
Roger Cottrell
Oct 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
Unreadable rubbish that tries to reduce Marx to a structuralist sociology. A continuation of Stalinism's attack on Marxism and the worst thing to happen to social analysis and critical theory since Uncle Joe came to power in person.
Sara Salem
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Althusser is a great and lively writer. Especially loved the chapters on the young marx and on humanism.
Derek Brown
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Althusser argues that there is a difference between the early humanist Marx and the late scientific Marx. That’s the book.
Jun 29, 2020 rated it liked it
i've always liked anderson's description of marxism as an amalgam or synthesis of i) british empiricism, ii) french utopian socialism and iii) german idealism both because it is an inveterately marxist reading of marxism -- anderson being reliably synoptic in his points of view -- and also because it offers a robust means of understanding marx's ouevre, in its oscillations between these three poles. in althusser we see something quite different being proposed, utopian socialism, empiricism and i ...more
Аnna Beria
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really had not appreciated these essays enough before.

In between rigorous analysis of the crucial differences between Hegel’s dialectic and Marx’s dialectic, contradictions and overdeterminations, and in between amazing analysis of the differences of marxist materialism, pre-marxist materialism, and socialist humanism, in between all this, the essay about Bertolazzi’s and Brecht’s plays is pure beauty 💔

“..forms of temporality that do not achieve any mutual integration, which have no relation t
Joshua Rincón Cortés
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this for a graduate course on Critical Theory. Good overview of Marx's intellectual development. You should read this if you really want to understand how ideology works. His notion of 'levels' does the trick. Get with this.
Adam Schlesinger
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
life is too short and quarantine is too long for me to keep trying to finish this while fundamentally not really getting it.
Ben Kearvell
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy things Noam Chomsky does not
Recommended to Ben by: France
This is the first Althusser I've read. I'd like to give it the benefit of doubt: I doubt this is his best work, and I doubt I have understood it entirely. As far as I can tell here Althusser wants to make a theoretical approach to Marxian materialism. By the time of The German Ideology, and certainly by the time of Capital, Marx held that the distribution of wealth determines the quality or kinds of philosophy dominant in society. But there can be no sense or understanding of materialism without ...more
Chris Radjenovich
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Better written than Lenin and Philosophy, and much more concise when you get to the bottom of all his arguments. Definitely one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, yet it's sad to think that only now is he getting recognition for his works in academia and social movements. I would also recommend it for anybody interested in delving into Foucault, Derrida, Deluze, etc. as these were his students or peers at one point (much of his argumentation on the need to understand structure, theory, " ...more
Apr 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent introduction to the thought of Althusser and what he was on about. And, as cannot be said for every book of essays, each successive essay is better than the previous. The crowning essay is probably "Dialectical Materialism," but I prefer "Marxism and Humanism." In the latter, Althusser really lays out the argument that ideology is ALWAYS present, which is a notion many who might attempt to contrast "ideology" with "pragmatism" might have never even thought about.

Anyway, goo
I have no idea how to 'rate' this one - oh so brilliant; oh so wrong! So I'm going to compromise between 5 stars for its efflorescent brilliance and 1 star for its obscurantist density (and profound structuralist errors). Despite all that, it remains one of those that should be to-read lists, but with all understanding that the list owner is unlikely to get to it.

William West's review on this page does the job for me; a really good outline of the book, its case and why it matters. I'll defer to
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Book was a little to caught up in cold war thought, which for me is a turn off due to the clouding of effective analysis by the split between the supposed "Democratic West" and "Communist East".

However, there is some interesting analysis of Marx in his early years compared against his later years, there is also some analysis on Engels worth reading. Near the middle there is analysis of a play which gives insight to Marxian thought.

Overall, it was a slow read.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
As far as short but intensely detailed books on Marxist theory go, this is pretty good. As far as the rigour of analysis goes it is second to none. However I couldn't commit as much time to it as I wished and so my enjoyment of it wasn't as full as it could have been. Still a cracking bit of work- worth reading for philosphers, Marxists or those who wish to understand the history of leftist thought.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very theory-heavy but I liked it
Dec 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those with a theoretical bent
Althusser here is at his best, at least in his early period. Using structural causality to better explain determination in the sphere of the social (a good move away for too much focus on models of strict heirarchy and oppression). Also, maintaining an uneasy balance between the influences of Spinoza and Hegel on Marx.
Luke Echo
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was a nice collection of essays that does really shake off some of the more standard and sloganistic Marxist positions. He exposes all that "on its head" shenanigans as nothing but simplistic nonsense.

Also, I do agree with a lot of Althusser's views on the 1844 Manuscripts and the misguided adoration they seem to garner from Humanist Marxists.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I didn't finish all of it yet, but Althusser is really helping me to understand: how to pull Marx away from Hegel. How to read early Marx as ideology, as a whole, from the perspective of later Marxist theory. All written with a lot of love.
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this 1965 book gives key pointers for sorting out and thinking through and reformulating some theoretical questions about the present and recent history which have been plaguing me in the past year or two.
Oct 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
The explanation of dialectics is sort of skimpy, but I really enjoyed the last chapter Marxism and Humanism. After reading the Early Manuscripts by Karl Marx a few days prior, this text seemed to really go nicely with those 'humanist' writings.
Liesda Dachlan
Louis Althusser is a great philosopical analyser. His book should, on Marx's, better be read not only for the philosopher, but for the academicus as well as it is a fundamental basis to uncover how the global capitalists are nowdays.
Scott Harney
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Althusser has had such an influence on my thinking. If you have to read anything by him I recommend 'Contradiction and Overdetermination', 'On the Materialist Dialectic' & 'Marxism and Humanism' from this collection. Gives a good sketch of his thought imo. ...more
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Louis Pierre Althusser (1918–1990) was one of the most influential Marxist philosophers of the 20th Century. As they seemed to offer a renewal of Marxist thought as well as to render Marxism philosophically respectable, the claims he advanced in the 1960s about Marxist philosophy were discussed and debated worldwide. Due to apparent reversals in his theoretical positions, to the ill-fated facts of ...more

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