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Louis Althusser

Louis Althusser (October 19, 1918 - October 23, 1990) was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Superieure in Paris, where eventually he became Professor of Philosophy. He was the leading ideologue of the Communist Party of France and his arguments were a response to multiple threats to the ideological foundations of that socialist project. These included both the threat from an empiricism which was beginning to invade Marxist sociology and economics, and a threat from humanistic and democratic socialist orientations which were beginning to corrode the purity of the European Communist Parties. Although Althusser is commonly referred to as a structuralist, he himself denied any link with structuralist ideology.

On November 16, 1980 he murdered his wife, and confessed openly. Diagnosed as suffering from diminished responsibility, he was not tried for the offence but instead committed to the Sainte-Anne psychiatric hospital. He died in 1990.


Waters, Malcolm, Modern Sociological Theory, 1994, page 116

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