Althusser and His Contemporaries

Philosophy's Perpetual War

Althusser and His Contemporaries

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: Published: May 2013

Author: Warren Montag

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Politics > Political Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Marxism

Althusser and His Contemporaries alters and expands understanding of Louis Althusser and French philosophy of the 1960s and 1970s. Thousands of pages of previously unpublished work from different periods of Althusser's career have been made available in French since his death in 1990. Based on meticulous study of the philosopher's posthumous publications, as well as his unpublished manuscripts, lecture notes, letters, and marginalia, Warren Montag provides a thoroughgoing reevaluation of Althusser's philosophical project. Montag shows that the theorist was intensely engaged with the work of his contemporaries, particularly Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, and Lacan. Examining Althusser's philosophy as a series of encounters with his peers' thought, Montag contends that Althusser's major philosophical confrontations revolved around three themes: structure, subject, and beginnings and endings. Reading Althusser reading his contemporaries, Montag sheds new light on structuralism, poststructuralism, and the extraordinary moment of French thought in the 1960s and 1970s.


“Beg, steal, borrow, or even buy Warren Montag's book on Althusser, it is very good. While he suggests that there can be no last word on Althusser, Montag's work provides an impressive overview which is a delight to read.”  — Derek Wall, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

“...this will be a required resource on Althusser for the next generation of readers. Essential.”  — K. Tololyan, Choice

"[T]his is a much-needed book. It extricates Althusser from the ‘gnawing criticism of mice’ and paves the way for a renewed interest in his work, one that takes into account the unpublished materials that emerged after his death – not only to make possible an analysis of the ‘late’ Althusser (the Althusser of the aleatory materialism explicitly elaborated in the 1980s), but also for a reconsideration of the Althusser of the 1960s and 1970s.” — Stefano Pippa, Radical Philosophy

“For those generally familiar with Althusser and his contemporaries, Montag provides one of the most original and energizing analyses of Althusser’s body of work.”  — Nathaniel Mills, Against the Current

"Montag has produced an excellent contribution to the limited Anglophone literature, re-positioning, or rather re-emphasising, Althusser’s place in contemporary French theory, and he makes a strong case for his enduring relevance." — Bryant William Sculos, Political Studies Review

"Like no one else can, Warren Montag brings to life in this wonderful book the adventure of Althusser's thought in all its excitement and brilliance." — Michael Hardt, coauthor of Declaration

"Warren Montag's reconstruction of the Althusserian journey into the hazardous territories of politics and philosophy gives us a fascinating account of the Marxist philosopher's trajectory, while illuminating his interactions with the major works of 'French theory.' There is no equivalent to Montag's interpretation, which rectifies many conventional notions and combines empathy with absolute mastery of the archive and the conceptual problems at stake. But Althusser and His Contemporaries is also a philosophical creation in its own right, delineating what I am tempted to call a negative eschatology: no doubt one of Althusser's most exciting 'aleatory' heritages." — Étienne Balibar, coauthor of Reading Capital


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Warren Montag is the Brown Family Professor in Literature, English and Comparative Literary Studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is the author of Louis Althusser; Bodies, Masses, Power: Spinoza and His Contemporaries; and The Unthinkable Swift. He is editor of Décalages: A Journal of Althusser Studies.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Why Read Althusser Today? 1

Part I. Structure

1. The Theoretical Conjuncture: Structure, Structurality, Structuralism 15

2. Toward a Prehistory of Structuralism: From Montesquieu to Dilthey 23

3. Settling Accounts with Phenomenology: Husserl and His Critics 36

4. Lévi-Strauss: Ancestors and Descendants, Causes and Effects 53

5. Between Spinozists: The Function of Structure in Althusser, Macherey, and Deleuze 73

Part II. Subject

6. Marxism and Humanism 103

7. Althusser and Lacan: Toward of Genealogy of the Concept of Interpellation 118

8. Althusser and Foucault: Apparatuses of Subjection 141

Part III. Origin/End

9. The Late Althusser: Materialism of the Encounter or Philosophy of Nothingness? 173

10. The End of Destiny: Althusser before Althusser 190

Afterword 209

Notes 213

Bibliography 231

Index 243
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5400-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5386-7
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