Geras and Althusser

  • Mark Cowling


This chapter discusses two short articles that Geras wrote about Althusser. Geras had already established that Marx had a theory of human nature, which was held continuously from 1844 onwards, and therefore has a good basis for disputing Althusser’s claim that in the older Marx there is no theory of human nature. Geras reviewed the main Althusserian theories, pointing out that he was forced to change them considerably under pressure of criticism. He argues that Althusser’s theories are basically useless. He plainly admires Althusser for questioning the continuance of the theory of alienation in the older Marx, and also for arguing that the older Marx is not a Hegelian. He also approves of the idea that the social totality is more complex than the Hegelian version of it. However, he criticizes Althusser’s conception of science as idealist, and his failure to recognize that Marxist theorists learn from the working class. Cowling points out that Marxist theorists do not learn the theories of political economy and its critique from the working class.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Cowling
    • 1
  1. 1.Teesside University [retired]MiddlesboroughUK

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