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I think we can say that Althusser’s “case” not only serves to reinforce society’s prejudices against the philosopher as someone who is mad and ridiculous, but against philosophy itself as a historically outdated discourse or institution.Does this mean that today we are confronting what’s grandiloquently referred to as “the end of philosophy”?
Althusser-à-rien”).[i] One might even say that as a public figure Althusser actively ridicule and resentment (through self-parody?) by writing an autobiography that it’s difficult to imagine anyone other than a philosopher having the audacity to write — a posthumous autobiography, moreover, in which he vociferously ruminates on everything from his take on Hegelian and Marxist dialectics to how he murdered his wife (the fact that he was deemed unfit to stand trial for the murder obviously compounded the stereotype).But in what sense does “being a philosopher” explain what, in Althusser’s case, is a complex and overdetermined historical episode that says as much about French postwar society as it does about a society’s relation to the philosopher as such?“Boy,” Alvy declares, addressing the camera, “if life were only like this.” The scene, among other things, is a commentary on the questionable social utility of the philosopher.What’s amusing is the fact that Alvy becomes irritated by a dispute over something that could barely be more trivial: namely, the correct interpretation of a philosopher’s ideas, and to such an extent that his only salvation is an appeal to the wise old sage himself.Althusser’s idea of practice is indebted to Karl Marx, for whom the philosopher, rather than a disinterested intellectual commentator, is an intellectual take sides. Will she stand with the system that ensures her prestige, not to mention her salary?Or with what for Marx were the historically progressive forces of unrest and social change, which will ensure neither her prestige nor salary?For Alvy — a professional comic subject to imaginary interpellation wherever he goes — this is the final straw.Incensed, he confronts the boorish upstart with Marshall Mc Luhan in person, who, to Alvy’s delight, flatly refutes the cinemagoer’s misguided interpretation of his philosophy.“Althusser’s Philosophical Disorder” is part of “Marginal Thinking: A Forum on Louis Althusser,” featuring articles from Louis Althusser, Jason Barker, Dariush M.Doust, Nina Power, Richard Seymour, Greg Sharzer, and Caroline Williams. as a fellow cinemagoer pontificates loudly on Federico Fellini, Samuel Beckett, and Marshall Mc Luhan.