Catherine Malabou: Whither Materialism? Althusser/Darwin

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Catherine Malabou: Whither Materialism? Althusser/Darwin

“I propose here to interpret the important shift in materialism announced by Althusser in his late writings. He affirms the necessity of moving from a teleological dialectical materialism (Hegel and Marx) to a “materialism of the encounter” (Epicurus, Spinoza). According to the latter, chance, “void,” absence of intention, and purpose are essential ontological conditions of possibility for a self-differentiating real. Darwin’s concept of natural selection will be analysed here as a possible example of such a movement. The question will then be: how can we transfer what works at the level of nature to the political? What is the difference between natural and social selection? Where is the “encounter” when norms, criteria, values and inequalities seem to be the only reality? Is it possible to build a new materialism which would inscribe the logic of nature in that of the community? In other terms, is social selection compatible with materialism”


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