+1 Recommend
1 collections

      If you have found this article useful and you think it is important that researchers across the world have access, please consider donating, to ensure that this valuable collection remains Open Access.

      The World Review of Political Economy is published by Pluto Journals, an Open Access publisher. This means that everyone has free and unlimited access to the full-text of all articles from our international collection of social science journalsFurthermore Pluto Journals authors don’t pay article processing charges (APCs).



      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      On Althusser's Philosophy of the Encounter

      World Review of Political Economy
      Pluto Journals
      Althusser, commodity fetishism, randomness


            The article reviews Althusser's Philosophy of the Encounter, examining in turn the problem of the Epistemological Break and the idea of matérialisme aléatoire. It looks at Althusser's critique of the concept of commodity fetishism and suggests a possible response. It goes on to situate the matérialisme aléatoire in the context of the history of atomism with particular reference to the work of Boltzmann. It provides a possible technique of both rejecting teleology whilst retaining the arrow of time.


            Author and article information

            World Review of Political Economy
            Pluto Journals
            Spring 2013
            : 4
            : 1
            : 38-62
            Copyright 2013 World Association for Political Economy

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


            Political economics
            Althusser,randomness,commodity fetishism


            1. The paradox about whether the class of all classes that are not members of themselves is a member of itself in Chapter X of Russell (1903).

            2. For a clear and readable explanation of these issues you can do worse than consult Chaitin (1999).

            3. When you grasp the contemporary skepticism towards atomism it is easier to make sense of Lenin's (1908) foray into philosophy. Lenin showed considerable foresight in coming down firmly against Mach's then fashionable views.

            4. He means Epicurus.

            5. The idea of entropy already existed in classical thermodynamics but the latter had no causal explanation for it.

            6. An English translation is available as Einstein (1965).

            7. Technically they are complex numbers which means that different states can interfere with one another.

            8. A matrix mechanics expressed directly in probabilities could not do this.

            9. I created the text using a Markov model of the World English Bible. The transition probabilities to print a new word are determined by states made up of the last three words printed. The probabilities are obtained from a computer generated Bible concordance using the algorithms described in Cockshott and Koliousis (2011).

            10. I cannot resist the chance to say here that Allin Cottrell and I provide a theoretical explanation for mercantile surplus value in the chapter on foreign trade of Cockshott and Cottrell (1992).


            Comment on this article