Louis Althusser

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"Kill the cop in your head!"

Louis Althusser (1918–1990) was an influential French academic and Marxist philosopher.

He was one of the poster children for the radical "spirit of '68." During this time, student revolts were becoming common in the West, and campuses in Europe and America were witnessing increasingly hostile environments. Western Marxism was also enjoying a resurgence amongst the hard left.

His books are dense treatises on social theory combining structuralist critiques of the social mechanism, psychoanalytic interpretations, and history without a subject. Part of his attempt at reviving Marxist philosophy was theorizing about its relation to "a knowledge identical with science." His position denied Marx's humanism, adopting a form of antihumanism, in which human beings have no control over their perceptions of the world or their behaviors because they are already encased in behavioral and symbolic structures beyond their control,[citation needed] and these interpellations are generated by the actions of the state.[citation needed]


Murder and Memoir[edit]

Althusser killed his wife by strangulation in 1980. Althusser said he did not remember the killing due to severe brain trauma from the times when he was given electroconvulsive therapy as well as taking several new anti-depressants drugs, most of which have in contemporary times been phased out. Althusser was sent to the psychiatric hospital of Saint-Anne after the murder. He was declared unfit for trial by reason of insanity and did not serve time for the murder. Later in life, he was housed at the university in France where he had worked.[1]

He wrote a memoir that was published posthumously while in the psychiatric hospital. He wrote about the killing of his wife and other steps that led him down the path to becoming a radical academic philosopher, including accounts of the time he spent as a prisoner of war.[citation needed] He also wrote that most of his philosophy was produced on fraudulent grounds since he actually had not read much of the philosophy his criticism was based on.[2]

Many of France's brightest minds studied under Althusser and even more were in turn taught by Althusser's students. Leftist academics continue to cite Althusser to this day.

See also[edit]

References[edit]