Louis Pierre Althusser
- Category : Writers-Religion-Philosophy
- Type : MGP
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Maya 3
French-Algerian philosopher and teacher at the ENS, a Marxist and an author. During WW II, he spent five years in a concentration camp.
He joined the Marxist Party in 1948 and began to publish major articles on the philosophy in the early '60s. His books include "Lenin and Philosophy," 1971. An elegant theorist, he redefined the concept of "ideology" as "our imaginary relationships to real conditions of existence" and fought against a purely economical interpretation of the works of Marx.
He had a history of manic-depression; on 11/16/1980 his madness escalated to where he strangled his wife, Helene Rytman, a sociologist, at their suite at the Ecole Normale Superieure, an elite institute for the training of the French professorate where he had lived, first as a student, then as a professor, for 34 years. His homicide was dismissed on grounds of insanity by a Paris court and he was committed to a mental hospital in 1981.
A certain sexual confusion, ambiguity or guilt seems to have been imbued into his mental breakdown. He wrote that he was a virgin at age 30 when he first made love to Helene, 38, and, hospitalized with anguish, vowed he would never do it again. He later tortured his wife with his infidelities, seducing other women in her presence.
He remained institutionalized until 1984, after which he retired quietly to an apartment far from the Ecole Normale. Calling himself a "missing person" he wrote the second volume of his memoirs from a "non-place." "The Future Lasts Forever" was published in 1990 after his death. His sense of his own nonexistence is at the core of his memoirs. The passages where he explores his own success, and his concomitant feelings of being a fake (his ability to charm, to reduce things to a formula), are among the most critical moments of the book. Nonetheless, the sense of Althusser's contribution to the history of philosophy are not lessoned; his theories, by now, have taken on a life of their own, separate from his life.
Althusser spent his final years in a geriatric center outside Paris where he died of heart failure 10/22/1990.