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Dialectic At Work: A Theoretical Rupture: Overdetermination

In this episode, “A Theoretical Rupture: Overdetermination”, the Dialectic goes to work to explore the Marxist idea of dialectics and ‘overdetermination’. We begin by asking Prof. Wolff about the theoretical problems and conundrums he faced as a young Marxist thinker and how he, alongside Stephen Resnick, decided that a theoretical rupture was necessary within Marxian thought.

We learn about the problem of economic “essentialism”, and the fact that the complexities of reality cannot be reduced in a simplistic way to the economic dimension of lives. Rather, there is a complex interplay between multiple ‘conditions of existence’.

We learn that Marxian theory is a continuously evolving discipline that seeks to constantly reinterpret the world to change it. We discuss how Althusser imported Freud’s idea of overdetermination from The Interpretation of Dreams, Prof. Wolff’s meeting with Althusser in France, and the new set of ideas that were first presented by Richard Wolff and Stephen Resnick in their book Knowledge and Class.

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