Against the idea that thinkers such as Althusser practice a form of ideology critique that is equivalent to a style of “deep reading,” at issue is a model of critical analysis that attends to what is readily perceptible on the surface but not conceptualized as such. In the mid-1960s, Althusser and Foucault, not unlike Lacan, propose similar models of reading that focus on what is visible yet invisible insofar as not fully recognized. However, Ricardo serves as a nodal point dividing Althusser’s and Foucault’s otherwise strikingly parallel modes of adjacent reading, or surface critique: for Althusser, Ricardo’s difference from Marx represents the break between ideology and science; for Foucault, Ricardo and Marx are entirely of the same moment.
Surface Critique: Althusser, Foucault, and the Problem of Ricardo
Eleanor Kaufman is professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French and Francophone Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of The Delirium of Praise: Bataille, Blanchot, Deleuze, Foucault, Klossowski (2001); Deleuze, the Dark Precursor: Dialectic, Structure, Being (2012); and At Odds with Badiou (forthcoming).
Eleanor Kaufman; Surface Critique: Althusser, Foucault, and the Problem of Ricardo. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2020; 119 (4): 747–759. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8663651
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