Louis Althusser

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Louis Pierre Althusser (French pronunciation: [altyˈseʁ]; 16 October 1918 – 22 October 1990) was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy.

Althusser was a longtime member - although sometimes a strong critic - of the French Communist Party. His arguments and theses were set against the threats that he saw attacking the theoretical foundations of Marxism. These included both the influence of empiricism on Marxist theory, and humanist and reformist socialist orientations which manifested as divisions in the European communist parties, as well as the problem of the "cult of personality" and of ideology itself.

Althusser is commonly referred to as a Structural Marxist, although his relationship to other schools of French structuralism is not a simple affiliation and he was critical of many aspects of structuralism.

Althusser's life was marked by periods of intense mental illness. During one of his bouts, he killed his wife by strangling her.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Althusser wrote two autobiographies, L'Avenir dure longtemps (The Future Lasts a Long Time) which is published in The United States as "The Future Lasts Forever," in a single volume with Althusser's other, shorter, earlier autobiography, "The Facts." They are not straightforward autobiographies and cannot be treated as such (at least without provisions) for purposes of strict biographical information.

Althusser was born in French Algeria in the town of Birmendreïs, near Algiers, to a pieds-noirs family. He was named after his paternal uncle who had been killed in the First World War. Althusser alleged that his mother had intended to marry his uncle and married his father only because of the brother's demise. Althusser also alleges that his mother treated him as a substitute for his deceased uncle, to which he attributed deep psychological damage.

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