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Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences

by Louis Althusser Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 144 pages
AU$52.99 NZ$55.64
Product Status: In Stock Now
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What can psychoanalysis, a psychological approach developed over a century ago, offer us in an age of rapidly evolving, hard-to-categorize ideas of sexuality and the self? Should we abandon Freud's theories completely or adapt them to new findings and the new relationships taking shape in modern liberal societies? In a remarkably prescient series of lectures delivered in the early 1960s, the French philosopher Louis Althusser anticipated the challenges that psychoanalytic theory would face as politics moved away from structuralist frameworks and toward the elastic possibilities of anthropological and sociological thought.


Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences translates Althusser's remarkable seminars into English for the first time, making available to a wider audience the origins and potential future of radical political theory. Althusser takes the important step in these lectures of distinguishing psychoanalysis from psychology and especially psychiatry, which long resisted Freud's analytical concepts of the unconscious and overdetermination. By freeing psychoanalysis from this bind, Althusser can then apply these analytical concepts to the social and the political, integrated with Marxist theory. The result is an enlivened methodology for comprehending social organization and change that had a profound influence on the Frankfurt School and scholars who continue to work at the forefront of radical thought today: Judith Butler, Etienne Balibar, and Alain Badiou.


Foreword, by Pascale Gillot
Editor's Preface, by Olivier Corpet and François Matheron
1. The Place of Psychoanalysis in the Human Sciences
2. Psychoanalysis and Psychology

This intervention exemplifies Althusser's conception of the role of philosophy in the history of scientific revolutions and reveals the outlines of the larger project of intellectual renovation within which the rereading of Marx took place. Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences provides a vivid account of the combative intellectual world of Althusser and his contemporaries, with many delightful digressions and personal anecdotes.
Louis Althusser (1918–1990) was a French Marxist philosopher and professor of philosophy at the Ecole Normale Superieure. His books include Writings on Psychoanalysis: Freud and Lacan (Columbia, 1996) and Reading Capital (1965).