Althusser: Mysterious Life and Philosophy

  In the study of Western Marxist thought, Althusser is a figure who will inevitably break into our sight. Since the 1960s with his two works, “Defending Marx” and “Reading “Das Kapital”, he shocked the Western Marxist research community. His ideological sparks have brought us countless surprises, but at the same time, they have also left a lot of Doubt, the debate about his theory has not stopped so far. Althusser of Catholics, Althusser of Hegelian philosophy, Althusser of Marxist, and Althusser of “accidental encounter materialism theory” in his later years, his roles jump between different theoretical tendencies, What is presented in front of us is a multiple Althusser, a complex Althusser. Just like his legendary life experience, it is full of all kinds of extraordinary surprises and mysteries, attracting people to explore and dig into his mind.
  Althusser’s father’s emotional debt
  On October 16, 1918, Althusser was born in a small town on the outskirts of Algiers, the capital of French colonial Algeria. His grandfather was a civil servant in this town, and his maternal grandfather was a local forest ranger. Ordinary family background did not make little Althusser’s birth take on any special significance, but the love story between his parents behind his birth deeply influenced Althusser’s life.
  Althusser’s mother, Luciana, was a good student with excellent academic performance since she was a child, and Althusser’s uncle, Louis Althusser, was also a very good young man who loved poetry and literature. Luciana was 16 years old. When she met Louis, this was the first friend of the opposite sex she met. Due to their shared love for knowledge, they developed a deep admiration for each other and became confidants. Both parents also readily agreed to their engagement. Soon the war broke out. Louis and his brother Charles went to the front together. Louis was in the air force, and Charles was in the artillery. They sometimes went home together to visit their families. In particular, Charles often brought back various photos of him in the artillery. In 1917, something unfortunate happened. One day, Charles came home alone and told everyone that Louis had died on a flying reconnaissance mission. He then takes Luciana to the park and promises the young, beautiful and lovely girl, heartbroken by the news of her lover’s death, that he will marry her instead of Louis. So Luciana, who has always been very educated and respected, married Charles with nostalgia for Louis.
  But life after marriage did not bring happiness to Luciana, and misery and helplessness almost became the whole content of her life. Charles didn’t read much, had been working outside since he was 13, and was a frequent source of trouble before he got married. Three things that happened during the period just married, not only became Luciana’s physical torment, but also became a sharp knife to hit her soul: Charles’ brutal possession of her body, the brutal plunder of her property, and the The limits of her freedom. Charles took all of Luciana’s savings one night to feast on, without saying a word to his new wife, whom he “picked up” after returning from the battlefield. Luciana also had to quit her beloved teaching job to stay at home at her husband’s request, serve him, and have children for him. Thus, Luciana unfortunately fell victim to this cruel husband, and all the pain she suffered caused her to fall into a deeper despair than losing her lover.
  ambivalence growing up in youth
  Little Althusser was born a year after their marriage, and was named Louis, the same name as his uncle, who in him was more of a continuation of Luciana’s love for her prematurely dead lover. Althusser wrote in his autobiography: “My father chose this name in honor of his brother Louis, who died in the aerial battle of Verdun, but more importantly, my mother, in memory of the love she had long since fallen in love with, And in her whole life, she has never stopped loving the Louis.” However, the mother’s inescapable affection for her lover brought a lot of helplessness to Althusser’s childhood. Later, Althusser said in his autobiography Describe how I felt:
  ”I was named Louis when I was born. . . . When my mother called the name ‘Louis’ softly, it contained the voice of another person, referring to my uncle, the man who stood The shadow behind me – ‘Louis’ is Louie, the man my mother loved, not me.”
  In this family atmosphere, the mother carefully nurtured her son according to the idol of the dead Louie, making him He became obedient, shy, and concentrated on his studies, until he was admitted to the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and became a well-known philosopher. “In the long period from childhood until the age of 29, I became simple… In fact, I was fulfilling my mother’s wishes and expectations for another Louis, which existed in my mother’s memory, and I fulfilled He worked hard to study and work as his mother expected of him, and became a well-known scholar, whose name “Louis Althusser” was written on several publications, and his mother was proud of it. It is in this sense that Althusser said: “I am a philosopher who is set.”
  However, while experiencing career success, Althusser’s heart was controlled by a kind of ambivalence. In his autobiography, he said: “Did I really succeed under the guidance of my mother? The answer can be yes. It can also be negative. Say ‘yes’ because my mother sees in me her expectations fulfilled and she is very proud of it; say ‘no’ because I don’t seem to have been guided by my mother I myself, I never really existed, my existence is just a disguise… It feels like I never really won my mother’s heart, I was just hypocritically carrying out this disguise to deceive her.” The contradictory feelings about his mother’s feelings reflected in the teenager Althusser became the reason for his psychological depression and loneliness in his character, and also planted the seeds for his later schizophrenia.
  Theoretical achievements and tragic later years
  Althusser spent his youth under the “halo” of Catholicism. As a devout Catholic, he actively participated in the “Catholicism in Action” movement at the age of 19 and became the school where he attended. leader of the movement. In 1939 he was admitted to the Faculty of Letters of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris, but the outbreak of World War II interrupted his studies. Althusser was drafted into the army and became a prisoner of war the following year, spending six years in a German prisoner of war camp. . On the one hand, the life of a prisoner aggravated his mental depression, and on the other hand, it allowed him to think about life seriously, which contributed to Althusser’s ideological change. After the war, Althusser continued to complete his studies at the École Normale Supérieure and began to study Hegel’s thought. The Althusser of Catholic theology was thus transformed into an Althusser shrouded in the “spectre” of Hegel’s philosophy. However, immersed in Hegel’s way of thinking, he did not indulge in it. He “understood Hegel internally, but unknowingly introduced the interpretation of early Marx.” It can be said that it is precisely by standing in Hegel Geer’s position to criticize the Marxism at that time, Althusser produced the theoretical entanglement between Hegel and Marx in his thought, and found the “epistemological rupture” between Marx and Hegel in it. In the study of Marx’s early and mature writings, he went to Marxism and turned into a Marxist.
  The 1960s was the stage when Althusser reached the peak of his theoretical career. Teaching at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris gave him an environment to concentrate on his research. The two texts “Defending Marx” and “Reading Capital” published in 1965 made Althusserian work. Dusser became the most striking Marxist philosopher of his time. In his book, he comprehensively criticized the interpretations of Marx that appeared from the second half of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. The original ideas and theories of Marx that are in line with the spirit of Marx are put forward, and the methods and positions for creating a new image of Marx are also clarified. Among them, important theories such as problem-based, symptomatic reading and ideology are still the focus of academic circles. In 1969, he wrote the article “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatus”, through which he constructed a set of Althusser-style ideological theories, which became his own in the Western Marxist theoretical circle.
  Theoretical achievements made Althusser dazzling in academia, but his heart has been suffering from mental torment. In 1946 Althusser met Elena, who would later become his wife. In his autobiography, Althusser wrote: “One can imagine our meeting. We were two extremely lonely people, both in the abyss of despair. By chance, we met and realized our very similar mental states: the same pain, loneliness, and extreme longing!” They soon had their first sexual relationship, but Althusser fell into extreme in agony and anxiety, and was sent to a mental hospital. In fact, at the height of his reputation as a philosopher in 1965, Althusser had been in the treatment of a psychiatrist, and by the end of 1979, Althusser’s condition had become so severe that he had to count hospitalization.
  On November 16, 1980, a tragic scene unfolded. Althusser had a psychotic episode and strangled his wife Elena to death unconsciously. When he saw his wife staring at the ceiling with motionless eyes and a stiff tongue between her lips and teeth, Althusser ran frantically out of the apartment He kept shouting, “I strangled Elena! I strangled Elena!” But when the doctor arrived at his home, it was too late, Elena died, although he was immune from prosecution, But he had to once again be forcibly sent to a mental hospital for treatment, and was also relieved of his teaching duties at the Higher Normal School. For the theoretical circle, Althusser has so far withdrawn from the stage of life as a formal philosopher. But for Althusser himself, it was the beginning of another “prisoner” life, and another opportunity to reflect as in a German prisoner of war camp. On October 22, 1990, Althusser died of a sudden heart attack. In the last 10 years of his life, Althusser turned most of his energy to thinking about Machiavelli, which seems to have been out of our sight for a long time this time. Althusser brought us an accident again, and the proposal of “accidental materialism” made Althusser’s theory become the focus of academic attention again many years after his death.

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