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By Robert Paul Resch
The writings of the French Marxist thinker Louis Althusser and his affiliates have figured prominently within the improvement of latest social idea. The Althusserian university of Structural Marxism is a startlingly unique synthesis of Marxism and Modernism, which has produced a wide physique of paintings that extends around the human sciences and the arts to interact a large number of cultures, theoretical difficulties, and political concerns. regardless of the incontrovertible fact that Althusser himself is widely known as a huge determine, the breadth, coherence, and achievements of Structural Marxism as an entire have long past mostly unrecognized. during this, the main systematic and wide-ranging evaluation of Structural Marxism in any language, Resch presents a complete and thematic creation to the paintings of Althusser, Nicos Poulantzas, Pierre Macherey, Etienne Balibar, Emmanuel Terray, Terry Eagleton, Gran Therborn, Rene Balibar, Perry Anderson, Pierre- Philippe Rey, Michel Pchaux, man Bois, and others. Resch's sympathetic and serious research demonstrates the large value of Althusser's modernist renewal of Marxist social concept and its ongoing problem to post-Marxist routine reminiscent of postmodernism and neo-liberalism.
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Extra resources for Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory
The epistemological significance of Althusser's efforts should also be noted. Althusser is defining and defending a theoretical space between the naive objectivism of reflection theory and the sophisticated relativism of positivist concepts such as Weber's notion of "elective affinity" and postmodern formulations such as Derrida's notion of différance . In this context as well, Althusser's concept of determination in the last instance appears as something of a realist manifesto: a declaration of faith that, on the other side of the aporias inherent in human language and even human reason, the real world exists and that we have valid knowledge of it.
Spinoza envisages a kind of unified and complete science that would enable every natural change to be shown as a completely determined effect within a single system of causes; that is, everything would be adequately explicable within a single theory. Althusser would not disagree that such a conclusion follows logically from Spinoza's concept of God or Nature, which does not permit inadequacy or uneven development. Althusser might even accept this proposition as an ultimate conclusion of a realist and materialist position within philosophy.
57 ― Without a concept such as economic determination, history can be envisioned only as radical exteriority, a chaotic "war of every element against every other," or as radical interiority, every element being an epiphenomenon of a transcendent essence animating the whole through its elements. The structure of the whole is articulated as the structure of an organic, hierarchized whole. The coexistence of limbs and their relations in the whole is governed by the order of a dominant structure which introduces a specific order into the articulation .