Book Review: Philosophy for Non-Philosophers

Simon Constantine* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalBook/Film/Article reviewpeer-review


Review of: Louis Althusser, Philosophy for Non-Philosophers, trans. by G.M. Goshgarian (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)

With the recent wave of posthumous publications, conferences and edited volumes, the writings of Louis Althusser have been subject to a major critical re-appraisal. As a result, the clichés which once surrounded his work have been replaced by a narrative of epistemological breaks no less complex than that which the French philosopher attributed to Marx. If Althusser gave us several ‘Marxs’, there are now multiple ‘Althussers’ – including Althusser the aleatory materialist, the anti-foundationalist political thinker and even the young Hegelian student, to name but a few. Yet despite this renewed interest, one key aspect of his practice remains relatively unexplored: his status as a public intellectual seeking to bridge the gap between the academy and the workers’ movement. Given the unforgiving style and academic audience of many of his published works, this omission is not particularly surprising. Indeed, for many of his critics, Althusser’s reputation as an intellectual elitist has been firmly established since his defence of the university and inaction during May ‘68. However, without acknowledging the philosopher’s gestures towards political militancy, it is difficult to understand much of the work which he produced throughout the 1970s in response to critiques of his ‘theoreticism’. During this period of self-criticism, Althusser not only attempted to write for a non-specialist readership, flirted with Maoism and became a left-critic of the PCF. He also sought to redefine philosophy as a form of political practice which ‘represents the class struggle in theory’; a project which acquired a renewed urgency following the rise of Eurocommunism and the crisis in Marxism. The outcome was a series of experiments, fragments and unfinished projects, many of which are just beginning to emerge from the archive
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-123
Number of pages4
Issue number1
Early online date5 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2018


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