[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]

Louis Althusser (1918 - 1990)

Lifespan: 1918 - 1990

Related: French philosophy and theory - Marxism - Structuralism

Žižek follows Louis Althusser (among others) in jettisoning the Marxist equation: "ideology=false consciousness." Ideology, to all intents and purposes, is consciousness. Ideology does not "mask" the real—one cannot achieve true consciousness. This being the case, post-ideological postmodern "knowingness"—the wink wink nudge nudge cynicism and irony of postmodern cultural production—does not reveal the truth, the real, the hard kernel. Knowing that we are being "lied" to is hardly the stuff of revolution when ideology isn't, and never has been, simply a matter of consciousness (cynicism, irony, and so on), of subject positions, but is the very stuff of everyday praxis itself. --Wikipedia entry on Žižek [Aug 2006]

On November 16, 1980, Althusser strangled his wife, Helene Legotien nee Rytmann, to death, following a period of alleged mental instability. The exact circumstances are debated, with some claiming it was deliberate, others accidental. Althusser himself claimed not to have a clear memory of the event, saying that, while he was massaging his wife's neck, he discovered he had strangled her. Since he was alone with his wife when she died, it is difficult to come to firm conclusions. Althusser was diagnosed as suffering from diminished responsibility, and he was not tried, but instead committed to the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital. Althusser remained in hospital until 1983. [Jan 2007]


Louis Pierre Althusser (October 16, 1918 - October 23, 1990) was a Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the prestigious École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy. He was a leading academic proponent of the French Communist Party and his arguments were a response to multiple threats to the ideological foundations of that socialist project. These included both the influence of empiricism which was beginning to influence Marxist sociology and economics, and growing interest in humanistic and democratic socialist orientations which were beginning to cause division in the European Communist Parties. Althusser is commonly referred to as a Structural Marxist, although his relationship to other schools of French structuralism is not a simple affiliation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Althusser [Aug 2006]

your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products

Managed Hosting by NG Communications