Collected here are Althusser’s most significant philosophical writings from the late sixties and through the seventies. Intended to contribute, in his own words, to a ‘left-wing critique of Stalinism that would help put some substance back into the revolutionary project here in the West’, they are the record of a shared history. At the same time they chart Althusser’s critique of the theoretical system unveiled in his own major works, and his developing practice of philosophy as a ‘revolutionary weapon’. The collection opens with two lucid early articles – Theory, Theoretical Practice and Theoretical Formation’ and ‘On Theoretical Work’. The title piece – Althusser’s celebrated lectures in the ‘Philosophy Course for Scientists’ – is the fullest exploration of his new definition of philosophy as politics in the realm of theory, a conception which is further developed in ‘Lenin and Philosophy’. ‘Is it Simple to be a Marxist in Philosophy?’ provides an invaluable account of Althusser’s intellectual development. The volume concludes with two little-known late pieces – ‘The Transformation of Philosophy’, in which the paradoxical history of Marxist philosopher is investigated; and ‘Marxism today’, a sober balance-sheet of the Marxist tradition. Attesting to the unique place that Althusser has occupied in modern intellectual history – between a tradition of Marxism that he sought to reconstruct, and a ‘post-Marxism’ that has eclipsed its predecessor – these texts are indispensable reading. .
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