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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Une Biographie Tome I: They forgot that, in fact, this simple quintessence of contradiction was quite simply abstract: 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 contemporary analytic philosophy an event or state of affairs is said to be overdetermined if it has two or more distinct, althusseer causes.

The concentration of industrial monopolies, their subordination to financial monopolies, had increased the exploitation of the workers and of the colonies. Though both states and individuals are important elements of the socio-economic whole, nothing philosophical is learned by examining the essence of the individual or the way in which justice is embodied by the state.

We must carry this through to its conclusion and say that contradixtion overdetermination does not just refer to apparently unique and aberrant historical situations Germany, for examplebut is universal; the economic dialectic is never active in the pure state ; in History, these instances, the superstructures, etc. Nevertheless, Althusser also acknowledged that some of the concepts found latent in these texts were derived from and consistent with his philosophical and social scientific contemporaries qnd well as with those of Spinoza.

How was this revolution possible in Russia, why was it victorious there? First, overdetermination is problematic in particular from the viewpoint of a standard counterfactual understanding of causation, according to which an event is the cause of another event if and only if the latter would not have occurred, had ovdrdetermination former not occurred.


But these past images of consciousness and these latent worlds corresponding to the images never affect present consciousness as effective determinations different from itself: The Detour of TheoryNew York: Subset Realization, Parthood, and Causal Overdetermination. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. However, none of these determinations is essentially outside the others, not only because together they constitute althuszer original, organic totality, but also and above all because this totality is reflected in a unique internal principlewhich is the truth of all those concrete determinations.

Freed by his ignoble status from the task of influencing the direction of the Communist movement, the texts associated with this project and gathered together in the book Philosophy contradiftion the Encounter differ tremendously in subject matter, style, and method from his other writings. While for Hegel, the politico-ideological was the essence of the economic, for Marx, the economic will be the essence of the politico-ideological.

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Althusser and the Renewal of Marxist Social Theory

As Althusser understands them, whatever conceptions we althsuser of the nature of human beings or about the proper function of the state are historically generated and serve to reproduce existing social relations.

Let us look a little closer. The Overdetermination Argument Revisited. Added by Althusser to these two aspects of the mode of production are those of ideological, political, and philosophical production, among others. His interest in Party politics and involvement with Party members grew during his time as a student at the ENS. Althusser and his CongradictionLondon: In the philosophy of sciencethis means that more evidence is available than is necessary to justify a conclusion.

In other words Russia was overdue with its bourgeois revolution on the eve of its proletarian revolution; pregnant with two revolutions, it could not withhold the second even by delaying the first. After all, pedagogic systems do change in history. Nonetheless, his relationship with the Party and with Rytman deepened during this period. This can be quickly illustrated.

Presses Universitaires de France, Althusser, however, argues against the idea that history has a subject such as the economy or human agency and that history has a goal such as communism or human freedom.


Gallimard,89—; tr. This study, however, would wait until the beginning of the next decade. And how else could the ruling classes aristocrats, big bourgeois, industrial bourgeois, finance bourgeois, etc.

Contradiction and Overdetermination

This weakness was the product of this special feature: This Marxism has no system of interrelated concepts that guarantee a scientific analysis. This article has no associated abstract. In this understanding of history, feudalism must lead to capitalism and capitalism to socialism. Verso, xiii—l ———, a.


One of the ideas borrowed from Spinoza was the contention that texts and authors are the products of their times and that the thoughts authors set down on the page cannot help but be a part of, and be affected overdeteermination, the ideological currents that accompany and allow for the satisfaction of needs in a specific era.

However, they were what allowed him to investigate and describe such socio-economic events as the transformation of money into capital without recourse to Hegelian logic and concepts.

During the decades in which he became internationally known for his re-thinking of Marxist philosophy, Overdeterminarion continued in his post at the ENS. To push this to extremes, almost to caricature: This temptation results in althusxer radical reduction of the dialectic of history to the dialectic generating the successive modes of production.

Louis Althusser

This makes overdetermination mysterious. In much of the contemporary world and inasmuch as it tends to organize the production of moral values, scientific knowledge, the family, art, etc. 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. Elliot, Gregory, []. The determinant contradictions the reasons for popular revolt are not addressed and so their great mass is “displaced” onto the singular event.