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Yves Duroux (1941– )

Compared to some other students of Althusser at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in the mid 1960s, Yves Duroux has published relatively little and is accordingly little known outside France. Although his influence has often remained discreet and behind the scenes, from the beginning of his career he has regularly been recognised by his colleagues as one of the most brilliant and versatile thinkers of his generation. Althusser referred to him, in his autobiography, as ‘the cleverest member of our group’.

Duroux entered the ENS in 1960. Together with Althusser, Etienne Balibar and Jacques Rancière, he helped to organise the series of seminars at the Ecole Normale that gave rise to the volume Lire le Capital [Reading Capital], published in late 1965. In 1966, Althusser included Duroux (along with Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar and Pierre Macherey) in a new ‘Theoretical Work Group’, which took as its first object a general theory of discourse, as sketched out in Althusser’s crucial but unpublished ‘Three Notes on the Theory of Discourse’ (translated in Althusser, The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings, 2003); although they never resulted in an anticipated volume of Elements of Dialectical Materialism, exchanges between the five members of this informal group continued over two years, and produced more than 400 pages of notes.

Duroux remembers the Cahiers pour l’Analyse as ‘the strong, uncompromising programme of French structuralism’, a project in which ‘the word “analysis” didn’t mean “analytical philosophy” but intervention at the point of exception.’ Although only listed as a member of the Cercle d’Épistémologie in issues nine and ten of the Cahiers, Duroux played a fundamental role in its inception. He participated in Lacan’s early seminars at the ENS, and he contributed, with Jacques-Alain Miller and Jean-Claude Milner, to the composition of what was to serve in effect as the journal’s inaugural manifesto, the article ‘Action de la structure’ (drafted in 1964 but only published in CpA volume 9; for more details see Duroux interview). With his ‘Psychologie et logique’ (CpA 1.2) Duroux also prepared the ground for Miller’s inaugural article ‘Suture’ (CpA 1.3), with a brief presentation on Frege’s concept of number, first delivered as a paper in Lacan’s Seminar XII (Crucial Problems for Psychoanalysis) on 27 January 1965.

After leaving the ENS, Duroux spent some time teaching in Madagascar (1965–1967), and then began teaching epistemology of the social sciences in the new department of sociology that Jean-Claude Passeron and Nicos Poulantzas helped to set up, at the University of Paris VIII (Vincennes). In 1983 he became Vice-Director of the Département des sciences humaines et sociales of the CNRS (Centre National de la recherché Scientifique) and, from 1989 to 1993, was Director of the Département des sciences humaines in the Ministry for Scientific Research. In 1993 he began teaching at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, in the southern suburbs of Paris. He retired from teaching in 2006. He has played an important role in launching a wide range of French philosophical and educational ventures, e.g. the Collège International de Philosophie (1983) (of which he was acting administrative director for several years), the Association pour le Centre Michel Foucault (1986), the Centre International d’Etude de la Philosophie Française Contemporaine (2002, with Alain Badiou), and the Centre Interdisciplinaire d’Études et de Recherches sur l’Allemagne (2004).

In the Cahiers pour l’Analyse

Yves Duroux, ‘Psychologie et logique’, CpA 1.2 [HTML] [PDF] [SYN] [TRANS]

Select bibliography

  • ed., with Etienne Balibar et al. Lire le Capital [1965]. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1996.
  • ‘Remarques théoriques’, in Pierre-Philippe Rey, Sur l’articulation des modes de production, ed. Charles Bettelheim. Paris: École Pratique des Hautes Études, Vième Section, no. 13-14, 1970.
  • ‘Eléves d’Althusser. Entretien avec Yves Duroux, propos recueillis par François Ewald’. Le Magazine littéraire, 304 (November 1992): 46-48.
  • ‘La Pensée du biologiste’. Critique, 661-662 (2002): 552-565.
  • ed., et al. Le Cahier - Collège International de Philosophie. Paris: Osiris, 1985-1989 [total of ten issues, subsequently replaced by the journal Rue Descartes].
  • ‘La Querelle interminable: Rancière et ses contemporains’. In La philosophie déplacée: Autour de Jacques Rancière, ed. Laurence Cornu and Patrice Vermeren. Paris: Éditions Horlieu, 2006. 17-26.