Not really, or at least no more so than in times past.
However, reading Althusser may confirm that we arrived at the end of a certain “practice” of philosophy, a certain way of doing philosophy, which naturally has its fair share of implications for the philosopher’s profession, and for his or her status as a public figure.
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against the philosopher as someone who is mad and ridiculous, but against philosophy itself as a historically outdated discourse or institution.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”?
Indeed, not only do philosophers come armed with the ultimate power of words; their words, when used, are gratuitous, needless in their hair-splitting detail, and therefore useless.
This partly explains why — but of course I don’t pretend to be telling the whole story here — philosophers have always been targets of public ridicule and resentment.
) 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?
” The answer, perhaps courtesy of the same rhetorical questioner, was: “Althusser’s nothing” (“A quoi sert Althusser?
Althusser-à-rien”).[i] One might even say that as a public figure Althusser actively ridicule and resentment (through self-parody?