Louis Althusser

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Louis Pierre Althusser (1918 - 1990), born in Algiers, became a Marxist philosopher who taught at the École Normale Supérieure. He was most influential during the late 1960s and the 1970s when his ideas were enthusiastically taken up by political scientists and sociologists in France and abroad.

Althusser was a structuralist, taking an extreme position on Marx's theory of economic determinism. He thought that economic relations were the underlying structure which determined everything in society. Individuals have no free will but are in some way the superficial embodiments of economic relationships. Similarly, ideas, history and political structures have no actual significant content. Althusser's views have sunk somewhat into obscurity in recent decades, partly as a result of the personal tragedy of his own life, which ended in pervasive mental illness.


For Marx (1965)