chapter  3
Trials of experience
Pages 28

The status given to experience is a persistent problem for political and social critique. For dialectical thought, experience has always been an important theme, but this has not yielded a consistent theoretical formulation of experience from which one could discern something like a unified dialectical tradition. I have shown how experience is notably absent from Louis Althusser’s rewriting of the Marxist dialectic because for him it would maintain a place for the subject that he was unwilling to endorse. Conversely, another Marxist, Henri Lefebvre, placed experience at the core of his dialectical approach that was committed to understanding and transforming everyday life. And before Althusser or Lefebvre, Hegel’s Phenomenology concerned itself in part, as my earlier reading maintained, with the experience of the develop - ment of consciousness told through the category of the active subject. Since dialectics can be conceived of in such a way that experience is absent, wholly central, or one element in a constellation of concepts, my objective in this chapter is to specify how dialectical critique can theorize experience today and why it benefits from making experience one of its core concepts.