LECTURE – TUESDAY , EBRUARY 26TH
Althusser – Terms, Theses
Ideological State Apparatus (ISA)
Repressive State Apparatus (RSA)
Base and Superstructure
“Relative autonomy of the superstructure”
“Dominant ISA,” Religious ISA, Educational ISA
“Ideology has no history” ; “Ideology has a material existence” ; “Ideology
interpolates individuals as subjects”
Not only are we faced with misrepresentations in our daily lives, but we are also
faced with misrepresentation in academic study.
MARX: We need a critical theory for more than art and literature, but for our
everyday experience. We need to investigate these misrepresentations,
discover what they are, and why they exist.
Marx‟s theory of ideology: mystification, inversion; there are 2 main principles:
Description of the large view of how reality actually is: Theory of base and
superstructure. 662: Relations of production constitute the economic structure
of society… Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology, no longer
retains the semblance of independence. Life is not contained by
consciousness, but consciousness by life. The bottom determines the top
Theory of inversion: in all ideology, men in their circumstances appear upside-
down. Not just looking at things through rose-coloured glasses, but with a
completely ignorant perspective
Williams, on the problems with Marx‟s theory: The chief problem that he isolates
is the confusion that binaristic ideas of base and superstructure encourage the idea
of a base and superstructure is very evocative. It makes you think and try to apply it, but it tends to tempt people into thinking in clearly black-and-white distinctions, in
Williams is a Marxist, but is complaining about the ridiculous conclusions
made by Marxists
Piano-maker is base, but pianist is superstructure how binary thinking
invites ridiculous questions and statements
Williams introduces refinements. Promotes his version of Hegemony: avoids
the binary structure, giving a more mainstream/dominant/leading practice.
Surrounded by a number of alternatives: residual (cultures that are around from past
historical periods that developed under other modes of production), emergent,
alternative, and oppositional practices.
Williams‟ idea of incorporation: the action of hegemony in respect with rival
or opposite cultural practices. This model is useful for looking at what happens in
our culture: fashion, popular culture, high culture, etc. Still has to do with class
dominations, while doing away with the base and superstructure.
Althusser: Ideology will tend to naturalize things, thus hiding the fact that they
are culturally produced; they are contingent. This is a matter of obviousness. He
repeats the word so much that the reader can‟t forget the concept, but it also tends
to afterwards make the reader think twice before using the word in one‟s own life.
Gives us another way forward. The pianist vs. the piano maker is not a dead-
end, by going back to Marx‟s base-superstructure model.
Focuses much more on the superstructure itself, and much less on the base
and its relationship to the superstructure. Almost entirely an essay on the
Materializes the superstructure. Not a mere set of
ideas/images/illusions/representations – he treats it as a set of embodies
treatments and rituals THINK: “Ideology has a material existence”
Jamming the binary. “This is all material.” Even when you are talking about
reality, it is material reality you‟re talking about. These are instantiated
practices. They are all solid.
Helps clear away the confusion produced by the base-superstructure. Clearer
than Marx Questions the tendency towards conspiracy theory, to blame ideology for an
evil clique or priesthood. 1351, 1352: small clique of scheming ideologues
who come up with a plot to deceive the masses. Althusser rejects that notion.
1352: Uses the term “Clique” deliberately. As satisfying as it may be to blame
the group, it suggests that it is a historical accident; it might have been
avoided if this clique didn‟t exist. THINK: If we could have shot Hitler, WWII
wouldn‟t have happened (ignoring the social problems that cause historical
Gives a much better picture of the relationship of the individuals to ideology.
The category of the subject is the constituent category of ideology.
Marx tended to emphasize the collective; individualism is an illusion. Althusser:
how does a social formation maintain itself from generation to generation?
The necessity that a social formation not only produces what it needs to
consume, but that it reproduces itself. You need not only production, but also
reproduction of the means of production. How do we explain this? Ideology!
1359: semi-satirical edge – the subject who works by himself. Ideology is what
makes us automatic, so we don‟t have to be reminded or forced into certain
SA RSA ISA
Borrowing the term Unitary Ideology. Had not been
regarded this way before,
and remains controversial
Police Ruling class Ruling class
Courts Ruled by violence and Set of laws. Those who
force break those laws can be
(parallel to raising kids)
Prisons Repression Diverse: THINK:
incorporating what is
Army Relies on ISA for support ISA relies on RSA for support
What a state must have to 1354: list
defend itself and keep
Church has given way to
the educational state
apparatus (Middle Ages)
Binary opposition between RSA and ISA is actually a continuum.
If determination is from the bottom – up, what can be done about it? Althusser gets
around this by insisting ideology has a material existence.
Ideology always exists in an apparatus. Gives concreteness, a limit to the idea
of what is ideology and what is not.
When you kneel down to pray: Pascal says you do it because you have the
practice, and that is what conveys the idea (the prayer). Very much like the base and
superstructure, however it is not a Marxist base, but rather a cultural practice.
Engaging in a practice will determine your way of thinking
Sports and Ideology …
LECTURE – THURSDAY , FEBRUARY 28
“Ideology Interpellates Individuals as Subjects”
Does this mean ideology recognizes individuals as subjects or that it
misrecognizes them as such, or that it recreates them as such?
Is it good or bad, welcome or baleful?
o Depends on the situation
What is a “subject”?
o We don‟t become subjects, but rather we recognize that we are
subjects. We take it for granted that it is something that has always been an obviousness. No one can pinpoint when they realized they
o 1360: 2 contrasting definitions:
A person who is under the control of another or who owes
obedience to another
Grammatical definition: agency
o Subject is a construct. Author is also a construct, a category in which
we choose to describe someone who writes novels, but is not entirely
necessary. Also the lyric
What is “interpellates”?
o Always already subjects
o 1355: How does he get from the simple illustration that friends
recognize each other to everyone being subjects?
o Centres in self-recognition
o OED: considered an archaic term, from the 16-18 centuries. In the
French usages, the word involves more than just hailing, can mean
interrupting, interrogating, etc.
o THINK: WWI Uncle Sam posters. Images of the State interpellating the
individual. Appealing to free choice, sense of duty
What is ideology?
o 1346: know-how vs. intelligence. Ideology is civic instruction,
nationalism, liberalism, moralism, philosophy
o Fundamentally ambiguous. Enables us as subjects, facilitates our
agency, while also limiting our control and subjecting us.
A pregnant mother individualizes a child before it is born, giving it a name,
expectations, hopes, etc. Even in a family and the values that we encourage are
ideological. What is the outside of ideology?
Ideological State Apparatus as the site of class struggle. To have class
struggle, there must be at least two parties.
Educational State Apparatus – teachers who teach against ideology are
heroes. Is the teacher against ideology or the ruling ideology? Says there is nothing outside ideology, but then says it is one of the effects of
ideology to make you think that you are autonomous and free, when in
reality, you embody them. You might not have been told to do such things
explicitly, but everything about your culture – from media to television to
novels to fashion to school to religion – suggests that is the way to a good
life. Ideology never says, “I am ideology.” Ideology has no outside, but it has
nothing but outside for science and reality. Notion that „everyone else is
subject to ideology but me.‟ (Handout sheet)
Not everything is ideology to Althusser. You get a bit of know-how with
education. Ideology is more specific.
LECTURE – TUESDAY , M ARCH 5 TH **TERM PAPER
Nietzsche: Hermeneutics of suspicion, but now language is the culprit with a
liberative, revolutionary view, treating it as possible to escape from (a viewpoint that
will change later)
Idea: the way that poetic language and its relation to memory relates to our
future. The argument is that there is an intrinsic connection between language and
reality/experience/knowledge. The cultural values that we inherit are encoded in the
language we learn as children.
We have left and right, but many other cultures use N, E, S, W for direction
Nietzsche‟s claims are coming from a philosophical historical context. Because we
are reading this in a different context to which it was supposed to be received, we
may automatically dismiss his ideas as wrong or backwards and negate its value.
Our language is full of metaphor, and Nietzsche wants to draw them out and
realize the implications of those metaphors.
Misanthropy Drive for Truth What is the Drive to Truth? Why are we so concerned with truth? (Inherited
from Plato). Questions humanity‟s need for truth and why we need this metaphysical
“existence” for which to base reality
Pg. 765-6: self-preservation in the State of Nature, with relation to necessity
and boredom, eliminating the war against all.
People want to be with other people, creating the need for communication
and harmonic living
Relationships with other people become based on certain principles
Idea of Truth and an idea of Lying. Someone tells truth and someone lies and
there are social implications to each
o A poor person says they are rich, subverting their societal role and the
perceptions others will form of them
o The person who does not use language properly, truthfully, gets
excluded because their deceit is harmful to the community
o There are truths that are harmful, so we are interested primarily in the
truths that are beneficial and life-preserving
Burdens language with the representation of truth and reality: “Is language
the full and adequate representation of all realities?” (Pg. 766)
Experience Metaphor Language
When something is experienced, one uses language to explain it to others
and also to themselves in order to understand what the experience means and what
its significance is. So does sense precede language? THINK: babies learning language
and new experiences.
Pg. 767: Explanation of experience transforming into metaphor that transforms
into another metaphor that transforms into language. There is a remove from sense
to word to language. There is a lens of perception that has to mediate everything
that we experience and understand.
From this idea of metaphor and language, we must then consider how
concepts are formed. For concepts are notions that take words applied to
various phenomena. o Leaf: there are many leaves that have different characteristics, but we
still group them together. Even though they may be very different, we
still understand what it means as a collective
o Honest: there are honest thoughts, actions, dispositions, information,
Compare the metaphors in different languages
o Beat in Uganda: beating a child, beating a phone to talk to a friend,
rain beating down, etc.
o Pastor: In English, it comes from the Latin word for Shepherd; in
Uganda, it comes from the word for a goat herder. The difference is
intense, however, because the shepherd leads his sheep, facing the
danger first, whereas the goat herder follows the goats, beating them
with sticks and rocks.
Nietzsche suggests that, through use, we forget that some things are
o Dead Metaphors: do you see what I mean? To give and receive
o “We take these things as the things themselves”; we start to acquaint
the things themselves with our literal meaning. We begin to think that
words are meaning in themselves
o “Only by forgetting this primitive world of metaphor… Only because
Man forgets himself as a subject … does he live with peace and
Nietzsche wants to attack certain ideas. Pg. 768: What is truth? What can we say of
truth if the language we use to define and describe it is itself ridden with metaphors
and therefore false and deceiving information?
Pg. 770: Mistrust in idealism. It makes us suspicious of what language means
THINK: Hermeneutics of Suspicion. We are suspicious of what we think the author is
saying and what he actually is saying (literally and figuratively). If we can‟t approach
this direct reality, how can we speak of anything with precision or certainty? How can
we say we know anything, if language is bound up in knowledge? What does it mean when Nietzsche says the language through which we think we know everything
actually isn‟t attached to the “correct” meaning or platonic realities at all?
Language is just a way for communities of people to agree. So now, who is
this essay for? Is it just for the Enlightened? People, in general, believe that language
works in a certain way, a way that Nietzsche is now saying is wrong. The new
function is almost Darwinian; it is not attached to reality.
Morality is a linguistic construction
Implying a division between people who are bored and the people who want
to be a part of a community (SEE: pg. 765/Misanthropy Truth)
What are the positive and negative implications of using metaphors?
Metaphors are true, although not literally, to the speakers of the language
(THINK: My love is a red, red rose)
Is Nietzsche arguing against metaphor or against dead metaphor specifically?
Pg. 768: What then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors… Truths are
illusions of which we have forgotten they are illusions.
THINK: Emerson points out dead metaphors and the origins of words
Metaphor, here, is its own metaphor. Nietzsche is talking about how language
separates us from truth and uses dead metaphors as a metaphor for this
o Nietzsche himself is a very metaphoric writer
In Part I of the essay, Nietzsche is very misanthropic and depressing, but in
Part II, he talks of the artists – those who have embraced that this is a
structure that can be refocused (Pg. 773). The structure of concepts which we
have built up to have a society; building an elaborate structure on a stream
o Recognition that language is not absolute and does not put you in
touch with reality, and it therefore can be renegotiated to mean that
we can lie and be creative rather than carefully conceptual. Nietzsche‟s
manifesto against the analytical branch of philosophy like can be seen
in Locke and Kant. Here, there is a poetic discourse filled with
Pg 769: human beings as architectural genius. Is this embracing the metaphor
in its distance to what is outside? Is this empowering?
o THINK: Hirsh‟s idea of and advocating for objective interpretation. o The comfort of truth: it is not true, but it is comfortable because it
seems like truth through objective interpretation
Nietzsche is building on the foundation that was laid by Emerson and Shelley. THINK:
Metaphor used as a metaphor. Language is built upon A = B. it is up to the receiver
of this metaphor to use the metaphor responsibly. It is another alienation model.
Metaphors are used, over time they are forgotten as metaphors, they become
concepts – irreverence. The forgetting has to do with habit and over-familiarity. There
is a transference of meaning. THINK: Concept of defamiliarization; THINK: Seeing-as
We don‟t notice them because they‟re dead, but because we don‟t notice
them, they will mess up the sandy foundation upon which our intellectual
edifices are built. So you might as well play with and enjoy metaphors and
misrepresent things productively – addressed to everyone willing to read it
LECTURE – THURSDAY , MARCH 7TH
** Metaphor – transference
Metonymy – “I‟m waiting to hear from the Dean‟s office” when you‟re really waiting
to hear from the Dean
Synecdoche – “I have 80 factory hands” when you have 80 factory employees; taking
a part to stand for the whole
Metaphor as used by Nietzsche in his essay on truth and lying. In claiming that
metaphor is that A=B, what he is really after is using what has long been accepted in
Western tradition as a dubious case of metaphor and expanding that to make it
stand for the problematics in language and conception.
Metaphor as the conceptual structure: Metaphor of God the Father stands for
a conceptual structure. When you die, you are going back home to your Father. It is
tendentious (God is a father, not a mother). He is also an arbitrary figure. But the
main point is to construct all of human life within a familiar and comforting illusion, and give the impression that your universe is a big version of your homelife, in
leaving and eventually returning to your parents. This can eventually rigid and harden
into a prison that prevents us from thinking freely and fluidly.
Metaphor is transferring the qualities of one thing to another. You can usually
translate a metaphor into a simile quite easily. Metaphor asserts something to be
something else, causing a bit of anxiety and allowing for slight interpretation.
Classic View of Metaphor: An Occasional of Aberrant Misuse of Language
The general use of speech is to transfer our metnal discourse into verbal to serve for
marks or notes of remembrace. Another use is when many use the same words to
signify what they conceive or thing.
To these uses, there are also 4 correspondent abuses. First, when men register
their thoughts wrong by the inconstancy of the signification of their words they
deceive themselves. Secondly, when they use words metaphorically; that is, in other
sense than they are ordained for, and thereby deceive others. – Hobbes
Language is often abused by figurative speech if we would speak of things as
they are, we must allow that all the art of rhetoric, besides order and clearness; all
the artificial and figurative application of words eloquence hath invented, are for
nothing else but to insinutate wrong ideas, move the passions, and thereby mislead
the judgment; and so indeed are perfect cheats: and therefore, however laudable or
alloabale oratory may render them in harangues and popular addresses, they are
certainly, in all discourses that pretend to inform or instruct, wholly to be avoided. –
If we want to convey things as they are, we must avoid rhetoric and figurative
language. The assumption here, however, is that this is possible.
I cannot but observe how little the preservation and improvement of truth
and knowledge is the care and concern of mankind; since the arts of fallacy are
endowed and preferred. It is evident how much men love to deveive and be
deiceived, since rhetoric, that powerful instrucment of error and deceit, has its
established professors, is publicly taught, and has always been had in great reputation: and I doubt not but it will be thought great boldness, if not brutality, in
me to have said thus much against it. Eloquence, like the fair sex, has too prevailing
beauties in it sto suffer itself ever to be spoken against. And it is in vain to find fault
with those arts of deceiving, wherein men find pleasure to be deceived. – Locke
While arguing, he makes a simile with gender
What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and
antrhopomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced,
transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use
seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one
has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without
sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal,
no longer as coins. – Nietzsche
Also using metaphor
Every word which is used to express a moral or intellectual fact, if traced to its
root, is found to be borrowed from some material appearance. Right means straight;
wrong means twisted. Spirit primarily means wind; transgression, the crossing of a
line; supercilious, the raising of the eyebrow. - Emerson
Nietzsche was very influenced by Emerson and much of the former‟s theory of
metaphor is based on Emerson‟s
Much of what we do in material life is metaphoric
“Man” is a construct: Man ventriliquises / projects his image onto the world
and receives the world back as this humanized image. THINK: God as the Father: you
are attributing to the Unknown, a familiar and domestic world for comfort even if it
is not based on evidence.
“Where man is not, nature is barren.” – William Blake
Until you can relate something to human life, it is ubiquitous to you
It is precisely through metaphor that our perspectives, or analogical
extensions, are made – a world without metaphor would be a world without purpose.
– Kenneth Burke But man has an invincible inclination to allow himself to be deceived and is,
as it were, enchanted with happiness when the rhapsodist tells him epic fables… -
We don‟t really want truth, we want the effects or pragmatics of truth.
Contempt for humankind in so far as we can‟t see the truth, but there is also
admiration for our capacity for self-deception.
Advocating: Dead Metaphor Revived Metaphor
Every thought is also a prison; every heaven is also a prison. Therefore we
love the poet, the inventor, who in any form, whether in an ode, or in an action, or in
looks and behaviour, has yielded us a new thought. He unlocks our chains, and
admits us to a new sense. – Emerson
Frees us from language
But what happens to the new thought that the poet gives us? It can imprison
us in a different way
It is not destruction, but rather the knowledge and acceptance that everything
in our lives are merely constructs. We need to keep making new metaphors so we
realize that we are dealing with them, and not think that we are living in a
Very General Metaphors
Purposes are destinations
States are locations
Events are actions
Metaphors for Time
Time is a changer
o Time is a reaper
o Time is a devourer
o Time is a destroyer
o Time is an evaluator Time moves
Time is a pusher
Metaphors for Life and Death
Birth is arrival
Life is being present here
Life is a journey
Death is departure
People are plants (THINK: Grim Reaper)
Life is a play
Death is sleep
A lifetime is a day
- George Lakoff
LECTURE – TUESDAY , M ARCH 12
Plato‟s basic model of representation: an artist‟s representation of a bed as
representing a particular “phenomenal” (one we perceive with our senses) bed. There
is the eternal idea of the bed:
Idea of bed Particular (phenomenal) bed Artist‟s representation of a bed
Therefore, the representation is not to be trusted because it is twice removed
from the reality.
The best critic is he who is most closely related to the practice in the real world.
Reference – the idea that language should refer to or represent existing realities in
the world. The closer you can get to the referent, the truer you can be to it.
Why did Plato choose the bed? The idea itself may not be natural, eternal, or divine.
The bed is abstracted from, rather than productive of, the particular empirical beds.
There is privilege given to the Idea as the “absolute.”
There is more to poetry than reference. There is something missing Effective reference – when we think that we‟re referring to something
White: poets represent history
Said: Orientalism is the discourse through which we have had the East dictated to us.
Allen: dealing with oral, matriarchal, native culture. Distorts what she infers was the
original oral story
Sontag: interpretation into artwork
Formalism: in ordinary language, you have transparency / artistic writing is
foregrounding or defamiliarizing the media. Trying to say that the function of art is
calling attention to the way that language ordinarily changes things; the artwork
foregrounds the medium and makes you more conscious of being immediated.
Althusser: ideology referents
Sausser: dead metaphor referents
Foucault: discourse referents
Sausser deals heavily with the individual. Most of his discussion on the individual is
done to discount its importance. Pg 850: language is the social side of speech.
Outside the individual who can never create nor modify it by himself… exists by
contract of speakers. Can constrain and furnish the individual. The individual must
serve an apprenticeship to language (THINK: Althusser: ideology hails individual as a
Representation is not uniquely in artwork, but is all around in the world.
We‟ve gone from studying literary theory and critiques to a larger, sociological
sphere. Now we are talking about all language. Range of reference and pertinence is
drifting further from literary theory.
Sausser is ruling out symbolic thought and the cult of the referent (literature is
important in so fa