Pierre Macherey, a prominent French Marxist literary critic, played a significant role in the development of French post-structuralism and Marxism. He was a student of Louis Althusser and collaborated on the influential work "Reading Capital," alongside Etienne Balibar, Jacques Rancière, and Roger Establet. The book delves into Marx's "Das Kapital" and explores key Marxist concepts like the labor theory of value, dialectical materialism, and historical materialism.
Philosophy, Literature, and Sociology
Macherey was primarily concerned with philosophy and studied works by Hegel, Spinoza, and Marx. He treated philosophy, literature, and sociology as interconnected disciplines and embraced Marx's idea that philosophy has no history of its own. He believed that philosophy's significance lies in its intersection with politics and economics.
Hegel or Spinoza: A Philosophical Engagement
In his 1979 work "Hegel or Spinoza," Macherey undertakes a philosophical engagement with the ideas of Hegel and Spinoza. His objective is not to reconcile the two philosophies but to comprehend them through their differences. The book focuses on the critique of Hegel's reading of Spinoza and advocates the Althusserian concept of symptomatic reading introduced in "Reading Capital."
Macherey contends that Hegel's interpretation of Spinoza is flawed because it attempts to view the absolute not just as a substance but also as a subject. This failure, according to Macherey, lies in Hegel's inability to grasp the internal dynamics of Spinoza's philosophy. However, both Hegel and Spinoza share a similar opposition to the idea of an external method applied to the development of knowledge.
Thought Unfolding as Immanent
Macherey argues that thought is not a method external to the reality it represents; rather, it unfolds immanently within it. This idea is evident in Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit," which critiques any method that claims to lead to absolute truth. Similarly, Spinoza's "Theological-Political Treatise" emphasizes that a method for interpreting scripture can only emerge through its own reading.