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Althusser

The Detour of Theory

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James Keith Elliott

First published in 1987, Althusser, The Detour of Theory was widely received as the fullest account of its subject to date. Drawing on a wide range of hitherto untranslated material, it examined the political and intellectual contexts of Althusser’s ‘return to Marx’ in the mid-1960s; analysed the novel character of the Marxism developed in his major works; charted their author’s subsequent evolution, from his self-criticism to the proclamation of a ‘crisis of Marxism’; and concluded with a balance-sheet of Althusser’s contribution to historical materialism.
For this second edition, Gregory Elliott has added a substantial postscript in which he surveys the posthumous edition of the French philosopher’s work published in the 1990s, from the early writings of the 1940s through to the late texts of the 1980s, relating the unknown Althusser revealed by them to the familiar figure of For Marx and Reading Capital, together with a comprehensive bibliography of Althusser’s oeuvre.

Frank Lovett

members of society are judging not his actions, but rather his dispositions or character. These are not at all the same thing. Indeed, the fact that they are not is really the heart of the problem. 27 Whether morality and prudence conflict in any specific situation depends, as always, on the balance