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In ancient Athens no one in the marketplace would have ever dreamed of asking Socrates’s opinion on anything, which would have invited more trouble than it was worth.The fact that Alvy needs Mc Luhan to win an argument therefore underscores a completely hollow victory.
Times change: this is the lesson that Althusser seems to be endorsing, in his rather unsystematic treatment of philosophy from the mid-1970s onward.[v] Marxism is undeniably a science of history. “Philosophy,” as Althusser writes, “is, in the last instance, class struggle in the field of theory.”[vi] In other words, philosophy is never disinterested or objective.
The philosopher enters into a war of ideas, between ideologically progressive and reactionary forces, that threatens to destroy not only his status as a philosopher, but also the institution of philosophy in its present form.
However, I think we can say that Mc Luhan’s profession is integral to the scene in a way that all the others aren’t.
It’s no coincidence that in Alvy’s embittered worldview the philosopher should have the last word, because in the popular imagination this is precisely what philosophers do.
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against the philosopher as someone who is mad and ridiculous, but against philosophy itself as a historically outdated discourse or institution.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”?
” 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?
In so doing, the philosopher would be practicing philosophy in a new and progressive sense — as opposed to a conservative and idealist sense — which, moreover, according to Althusser remains consistent with Marx’s own novel philosophical practice.[ix] Might this provide a historical explanation for why the philosopher is so often an object of ridicule and resentment?
Perhaps because philosophers have often been compelled, for whatever reasons, to join the wrong side. In the sense that they conflated logic with absolute truth, with sufficient reason “to the greater glory of God,” which they then used to uphold and justify the domination of their class privilege.[x] At the very least, philosophers deserve the people’s ridicule and resentment as payback for their misguided “intellectual” labor.