Althusser

Philip Goldstein pgold at strauss.udel.edu
Sat Aug 13 05:52:40 MDT 1994


 	Pete Bratsis disputes my claim that Althusser's distinction
between science and ideology was his most important view. "I would have
to disagree that Althusser's most influencial contribution
was his distinction between science and ideology." Bratsis goes on to
claim that what was most influential was the theory of subjectivity
and/or ideological interpellation. " But here the relevent distinction is not
science as opposed to ideology.  Here Althusser presents was is now more
common a view, ideology as actual physical practices * not beleifs * and
also presents a vairly complex theory of subjectivity by way of his notion
of ideological interpellation.  I think that this essay has shaped the
problematic for a whole generation of cultural studies." I have trouble
with this view, which is fairly widespread. On the one hand, to see
ideology as "actual physical practices" is to adopt a scientific
standpoint -- certainly an ideological position won't allow it. On the
other, Althusser disallows any general distinction between science and
ideology and, hence, any general theory of ideology. I mean in the
later work, not For Marx. Science/ideology works only within a particular
discourse or discipline, and the opposition presupposes that the
discourse has developed a formal or "scientific" mode of analysis. This
position is comparable to Foucault's, especially in The Order of Things,
but Foucault's view has been more popular because Foucault disavows
science/ideology, which carries bad connotations of dogma, authoritarian
powers, non-ideological truth, etc. I think the position that ideological
interpellation does not presuppose some formal or scientific practice to
be comparable -- a concession to all the bad connotations of Marxist
science.
Philip Goldstein


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