• The necessity of contingency. Rereading Althusser on structural causality

      Pippa, Stefano (Radical Philosophy Group, 2016-09-01)
      Among the concepts proposed by Althusser in the course of his famous symptomatic reading of Marx’s Capital, structural causality plays a central role. Extrapolated from Marx’s writings via a detour through the philosophy of Spinoza, it came to represent the concept in which Althusser summed up ‘Marx’s immense theoretical revolution’. [1] As is well known, for Althusser, by breaking with the other two models of causality available in Marx’s time (the mechanistic causality derived from Descartes and the ‘expressive’ causality derived from Leibniz and above all Hegel), ‘structural causality’ made it possible for the first time to think of history as a process deprived of any essence and telos, without subject and without end – or, as Althusser puts it in another formulation, as a ‘structure of structures’ without any centre. [2] It was, therefore, the concept that condensed the anti-humanist reading produced in the 1960s by Althusser and his collaborators, one that soon became famous under the label ‘structural Marxism’.