Expressing the Inexpressible: Lyotard and the Differend Jacob M. Held Marquette University Department of Philosophy Coughlin Hall P.O. Box Jean-François Lyotard, who coined this term in his book Le Différend (), translated as The Differend: Phrases in Dispute (), took as his key exhibit. The Différend () as “The Postmodern Condition, Part One”. Part One: The Historical Context. The life path and careers of Jean-François.

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The Differend – Wikipedia

If one wishes to guarantee that a consensus not exclude others then a criteria n eeds to be imposed on the procedure by which a community comes to a consensus. Proper names pick our referents in a way that is rigid and consistent but, according to Lyotard, empty of sense. How do we know when a differend has occurred?

All this I saw wiped out. Lyotard, Baudrillard, Vattimo Aurora, Colorado: Lyotard says that it differejd signalled by the difficulty of linking on from one phrase to another. He sees the subject not as primary, foundational, and central, but as one element among others which should be examined by thought.

Lyotard makes his own distinction between the categories of modern and postmodern in art, however, in a couple of ways. The limitations of reason are particularly evident for Lyotard in regard to the problems of representation. This region is material like the body, but it is not yet organizedthus the figure of dismemberment.


Jean-François Lyotard: “Le Différend,” Part One | Art History Unstuffed

Lyotard gives us a few examples of types of utterances. Lyotard proposes that a better form of legitimation would be legitimation by paralogy.

It is always possible for intensities to channel into a stable system, or to disrupt a system by destabilising it through intense investment. Gaming and the Question of Morality: Lyotard abandoned his libidinal philosophy in the later years of the rifferend, beginning a philosophy of paganism that developed, by the eighties, into his unique version of postmodernism. Marxism, Lyotard believed, failed to account for the desire that pushed those very students dfferend the streets in the first place.

Differend57 In other words, the Shoah leaves lyoatrd silent before its void, since it does not belong to any previous political phrase regimen or means for representing it. Kyotard prime concern is that the structures that exploit libidinal intensities tend to become hegemonic.

In modernity the narrative of science was legitimated by one of a number of metanarratives, the two principal ones being respectively Hegelian and Marxist in nature. Lyotard develops the theory of the differend through a complex analysis of sifferend, drawing heavily on analytic philosophers as well as ancients and early moderns. Yet linking, or speaking, is a necessary component of existence.

Saussure’s linguistics suggests that our understanding of the world is given as a structure to begin with, while Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology suggests that we first encounter an unstructured world, which we must work to structure. Lyotard develops some reflections on science and technology within the scope of his postmodern philosophy [see The Postmodern Condition].


A Gesture of Colour, ed. Different discourses have different goals or objects. Yet, leaving behind any foundation for prescriptive statements does not leave us unable to speak to what is just and unjust.

Despite his radical disillusion with these early political commitments, however, a strong political lyktard remains a central feature of all of Lyotard’s mature works.

The Differend

This leads Lyotard to a criticism of phenomenology as well, on the grounds that its descriptions of the body in the world are also too structural and do not account for the disruptive force of the figural. Georges Van Den Abbeele Manchester: Thus, obviously, all terror, annihilation, massacre, etc.

The tensor is a duplicitous sign.

Such performativity merely subordinates lyoard to capital. L yotard’s own recognition of the path above as the best path caused him later to reject his project of paganism. Some forms of art can reinforce structured systems of meaning, but the special feature of avant-garde art is to disrupt expectations, conventions, and established orders of reception. He uses these terms metaphorically, however, to describe the workings of reality and society as a whole, divorcing them from their usual attachments to human beings.

Postmodern Conditionxxiii—xxiv.