Rancière and Althusser

Rancière’s critique of Althusser and Ted Benton’s comments (RP 7 and RP 9 respectively) raise fundamental problems about the nature of theoretical debate in addition to fundamental problems at the level of theory itself. I take Benton to be presenting a defence of a more or less orthodox Althusserian position and the following points attempt to do three things: firstly defend some of Rancière’s positions against Benton’s criticisms; secondly to bring out one aspect of Rancière’s implicit theoretical position – that concerned with the relationship between concepts in the theory; thirdly to show that despite his criticisms of Althusser, Rancière reproduces in a different form a fundamental consequence of the Althusserian position – an inability to understand what theoretical debate involves.

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