The Theoretical Importance of L. Althusser’s Écrits sur l’histoire


  • Irene Viparelli Research ​Centre in Political Science​, University of Minho
  • Ângela Miranda Cardoso Centre for Research in Anthropology (CRIA), University Institute of Lisbon



Aleatory materialism, Althusser, Marxism, science of history


This article aims to draw attention to the theoretical importance of the collection of unpublished texts by Louis Althusser, Écrits sur l’histoire, edited by G. M. Goshgarian and published by PUF – Presses Universi- taires de France in 2018. We attempt to demonstrate the hypothesis that these unpublished texts contribute decisively to clarifying the relationship between the Althusserian interpretation of Marx’s works as a ‘science of history’ and its representation of the ‘aleatory’ as the essential core of all truly materialist philosophy. In effect, the unpublished texts ‘sur l’histoire’ make it clear, in our view, that the philosophical hypothesis of aleatory materialism, far from concerning only Althusser’s last period, was in fact a fundamental element in his theoretical output since the 1960s, playing a dual role as regards the theory of history. On the one hand, insofar as the philosophy of the aleatory constitutes a radical critique of any notion of history as transcendentally founded, it represents the logical and historical premise for a scientific approach to history in general and to the capitalist mode of production in particular. On the other hand, insofar as it takes on the form of ‘conjunctural thinking’, aleatory materialism becomes the necessary practical and political complement to the science of history, the element which reveals its revolutionary core.

Author Biography

Irene Viparelli, Research ​Centre in Political Science​, University of Minho

Professora Auxiliar da Universidade de Évora.



How to Cite

Viparelli, I., & Miranda Cardoso, Ângela. (2021). The Theoretical Importance of L. Althusser’s Écrits sur l’histoire. Práticas Da História. Journal on Theory, Historiography and Uses of the Past, (7), 161–175.