Jean-François Lyotard

Richard Kearney

in Debates in Continental Philosophy

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780823223176
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235155 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Jean-François Lyotard

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Jean-François Lyotard is seen today as the first philosopher of the postmodern condition. His thinking developed from phenomenology to postmodernism. Due to the changing circumstances that he witnessed, he realized it was necessary to review radically the nature of history and politics. There are multiple definitions of postmodernism which circulate in contemporary debate and Lyotard believes that these include his own. The notion of periodization is one of them—a typically modern mania. He would situate the “basic meaning” of the postmodern above all in the way the West will discover the “nothingness” of its objects and projects, thereby finding itself inhabited by something which it neither comprehends nor masters. Some “thing” encrypted in itself, which resists people and whose name is irrelevant. Here, Lyotard explains whether it is possible to reconcile his defense of the singularity of the event with a certain minimal universality of rights and duties—that is, of justice.

Keywords: Jean-François Lyotard; postmodernism; phenomenology; periodization; history; politics; justice; singularity

Chapter.  5199 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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