The Open Secret of Real Abstraction

Toscano, Alberto. 2008. The Open Secret of Real Abstraction. Rethinking Marxism, 20(2), pp. 273-287. ISSN 14758059 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article revisits the Marxist debate on 'real abstraction' in order to evaluate the relevance of this concept to a period marked by the rise of cognitive capitalism and a proliferation of discourses on abstraction in social theory. The article touches on the interpretive debates around Marx's 1857 Introduction and tries to identify the tensions and contradictions at work in the distinctive contributions of Louis Althusser, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, and Roberto Finelli to thinking on the specific status of abstraction, in terms of both the methodology of Marxism and the logic and ontology of capitalism. These foundational debates are then contrasted with attempts by Paolo Virno and Lorenzo Cillario to think the contemporary figures of abstraction in terms of its politicization, on the one hand, and its operational role in the labor process, on the other.

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Abstraction, Cognitive Capitalism, Commodity Exchange, Intellect, Ontology

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Date Deposited:

28 May 2009 11:19

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 12:50

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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