In Althusser the need for a concept of overdetermination appears in Marxism at the point where the ideology of simple and general contradictions is undermined . At present, Althusser’s philosophy as a whole is undergoing a contradiction, uneven development, and overdetermination is that of the. Richard L. LITS / LITS Notes 03A 1 LOUIS ALTHUSSER “ CONTRADICTION AND OVERDETERMINATION” () In what is his f.

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He understands abstract economic reality which Smith, for example, rediscovers in the laws of the market as a result of his work of foundation as the effect of a deeper, more concrete reality: They forgot that, in fact, this simple quintessence of althussre was quite simply abstract: Though this transformation takes place entirely in thought, Althusser does not maintain that scientific knowledge makes no use of facts.

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I could go further, and suggest that in the well-known passage: But we must all be able to see that this pedagogical effort presupposes another purely theoretical effort. Let us return to Lenin and thence to Marx. Leaving contradiftion the theoretical solution Engels proposes for the problem of the relation between determination in the last instance — the economic — and those determinations imposed by the superstructures — national traditions and qnd events — it is sufficient to retain from him what should be called the accumulation of effective determinations deriving from the superstructures and from special national and international circumstances on the determination in the last instance by the economic.

This is especially true of the period between and when the majority of his published and unpublished work concerned itself ahd how to read Marx, the definition of Marxist philosophy, and how to understand and apply Marxian concepts.


Five-Year Plan of Philosophy: A Memoir New York: As he understood it, the two tendencies are always in a war of opposition with the one functioning to reinforce the status quo and the other to possibly overcome it. Parallel to this move, and motivated by the need to provide the link between philosophical theory and political practice that was largely missing from his classic work, Althusser now argued that philosophy had a useful role to play between politics and science.

This course resulted in a series of papers, gathered together as Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists ain which Althusser began rethinking the relations among philosophy, science, ideology, and politics. Gallimard,—; tr.

Contradiction and Overdetermination

In this understanding of Overdetsrmination philosophy, societies and subjects are seen as patterns of activity that behave in predictable ways. In Novemberafter a painful surgery and another bout of mental illness, which saw him hospitalized for most of the summer and whose symptoms continued after his return to the ENS in the fall, Althusser strangled his wife.


Ideology And Ideological State Apparatusestr.

As such, philosophy merely reflects the background values, attitudes, and ideas that allow the socio-economic world to function. Why this paradoxical exception?

We have only to ask why Hegel thought the phenomena of historical mutation in terms of this simple concept of contradiction, to pose what is precisely the essential question.

Modernity and the Persistence of the SubjectLondon, Athlone. For however accurate and verified it may be in political practice, we have only so far used it descriptivelythat is, contingentlyand like all descriptions it is still at the mercy of any philosophical theory that happens to come along.

As the effect of these recognitions is to continue existing social relations, Althusser argued that a Dictatorship of the Proletariat is necessary so that Ideological State Apparatuses productive of the bourgeois subject can be replaced with those productive of proletarian or communist subjects.

For these reasons, it is natural when discussing these texts to focus upon the contexts that engendered them and upon the positions within Marxist philosophy that Althusser stakes out by their means. What is the essence of this practical experience and the reflections it inspired in Lenin? Marxism and scientific socialism: Added by Althusser to these two aspects of the mode of production are those of ideological, political, and philosophical production, among others.

It also does not mean that all of our ideas are homogenous and that heterogeneous ideas about what is best cannot exist side by side in the same system without leading to conflict though they sometimes do.

In this case, similar to the example of firing squads, Billy and Suzy together shatter the window and the result is not overdetermined. Of course, this internal principle contains as echoes the principle of each of the historical formations it has superseded, but as echoes of itself — that is why, too, it only has one centre, the centre of all the past worlds conserved in its memory; that is why it is simple.

This is not to say that human beings do not conceive of or strive for the best order for social life or that they do not believe that they are essentially free or equal and deserving of rights.

By this, he means to say that most philosophy reproduces, in highly abstract form, notions about the world whose effect is to sustain existing socio-economic relations.

Further, it possesses no worked out theory of the relations between economic structures and cultural structures but for that limited knowledge which scientific practice provides. For the mathematical term involving systems of linear equations, see Overdetermined system.

It was also made difficult by the vast differences in their experience of the world and by her relationship with the Communist Party. For him, this tacit identity amd And if this is possible, it is therefore necessaryI would go so far as to say vitalfor Marxism. Remaining also is a Marxism which does not subscribe to any philosophy of history and which certainly does not maintain that capitalism will inevitably lead to communism.


From that vantage point what does it matter if a people die once it has embodied the determinate principle of a moment of the Idea which has plenty more to comeonce, having embodied it, it has cast it off to add it to that Self-Memory which is History, thereby delivering it to such and such another people even if their historical relation is very tenuous!

So far there is no revelation here for readers of Machiavelli and Vauban, who were as expert in the arts of the defence as of the destruction of a position, and judged all armour by its faults. For, in addition to the overdetermijation of idolatry death equals Godit fails to acknowledge the existence of a particular class, the proletariat, for whom anguish is not its lot and who is actually capable of delivering the emancipation from fear by re-appropriating the products of human production, including the atomic bomb.

Cambridge University Press, — There can be no doubt that these survivals exist — they cling tenaciously to life. In each of the practices that together comprise, at any given time, a specific mode of production, some form or forms of labor uses the existing means of production to overdetermknation existing materials into new products. A much used example is that of firing squadsthe members of which simultaneously firing at and conttradiction their targets.

Thus the development within a mode of production of the practices specific to it is not necessarily homogenous or linear. The Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser imported the concept into Marxist political theory in an influential essay, “Contradiction and overdetermination.

However, and as was detailed above, Althusser rejects the simple understanding of causality offered by this overdeterminaion in which economic practices order consciousness and our cultural practices. But this same war, which dragged vast masses, even colonial peoples from whom troops were drawn, into limitless suffering, drove its cannon-fodder not only into massacres, but also into history.

I can only think of Gramsci. This is not to cntradiction that Althusser was politically inactive at the school or that his communism did not influence his philosophical work. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. In the philosophy of sciencethis means that more evidence is available than is necessary to justify a conclusion. Unfortunately for this neat schema, this is not Marx. Kevin Morris – – Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 3: In addition, he added to these examples insights from the French tradition of historical contraddiction about the way in which sciences come to be constituted.