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'An Absolute Humanism Of History'

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Chapter Summary

To a much greater extent than even his attack upon Gramsci's absolute historicism, Althusser's rejection of the Prison Notebooks's 'absolute humanism' was an authorless theatre in which the dramatis personae stepped forwarded in borrowed robes in order to do mock battle with absent antagonists. An historical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Renaissance humanism plays an important role in Gramsci's research into the formation of the creative popular spirit in his national context. It is in the context of this multi-faceted analysis that the categories of the traditional and organic intellectuals receive their meaning. In both instances, Gramsci highlights the intimate relation between these figures and transformations of the mode of production, but, equally, stresses that they are subject to a decisive political mediation.

Keywords: absolute humanism; Althusser; creative popular spirit; Gramsci; Prison Notebooks; Renaissance



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