Let us be good sports. Philosophers at work! It is well worth going out of your way to have a close look at such a spectacle! What spectacle? Why, comedy. Bergson (Le Rire) has explained and Chaplin has shown that, ultimately, comedy is always a matter of a man missing a step or falling into a hole. With philosophers you know what to expect: at some point they will fall flat on their faces. Behind this mischievous or malevolent hope there is a genuine reality: ever since the time of Thales and Plato, philosophy and philosophers have been 'falling into wells;. Slapstick. But that is not all! For ever since Plato philosophy has been falling within its own realm. a second-degree fall: into a philosophical theory of 'falling'. Let me spell it out: the philosopher attempts in his philosophy to descent from the heavenly realm of ideas and get back to material reality, to 'descend' from theory and get back to practice. A 'controlled' fall, but a fall nevertheless. Realizing that he is falling, he attempts to 'catch' his balance in a theory of falling (a descending dialectic, etc.) and falls just the same! he falls twice. Twice as funny.
Let us be good sports. Philosophers make a lot of fuss about nothing. They are intellectuals without a practice. Far removed from everything. Their discourse is nothing but a commentary on, and a disavowal of, that distance. they try, at a remove, to grasp the real in their words, to insert it in systems. Words succeed words, systems succeed systems, while the world continues its course as before. Philosophy? The discourse of theoretical impotence on the real work of others (scientific, artistic, political, etc., practice). Philosophy: what it lacks in titles it makes up for in pretension. This pretension produces beautiful discourses. So: philosophy as pretension will figure among the fine arts. An art. We are back to the spectacle. This time it is dance: dancing so as not to fall.
Yes, we are going to fall flat on our faces. Note that scientists (like all men engaged in a real practice) can also fall flat on their faces. but they do so in a particular way: when they fall, they calmly register the fact, ask themselves why, rectify their errors and get on with their work. But when a philosopher falls flat on his face, things are different: for he falls flat on his face within the very theory which he is setting forth in order to demonstrate that he is not falling flat on his face! he picks himself up in advance! How many philosophers do you know who admit to having been mistaken? A philosopher is never mistaken!
Althusser describing philosophy's "negative pole" in his introduction to the 'Philosophy Course for Scientists' delivered in October-Novermber 1967 at the Ecole Normale Superieure, in Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of the Scientists(Verso, 1990).