Jean-François Lyotard

Jean-François Lyotard

  • Summary
  • Overview
  • Key Readings

The association between Lyotard and postmodernism is so strong that it threatens to eclipse his seminal contributions to aesthetics, politics, education, religion and phenomenology.

The Postmodern Condition was widely acclaimed as the bible of postmodernism and Lyotard was unwillingly elevated by his readers to a position of almost papal authority. Yet the twenty seven books published in his lifetime, to say nothing of the lectures, articles and other interventions, reveal a complex, multi-dimensional thinker who cannot be confined by the label ‘postmodernist’.

Profoundly influenced by the inhumanity of the second world war, Lyotard began his career in Algeria where he fell under the influence of this historian, Pierre Sourys who introduced him to the Socialisme ou Barbarie group which included Cornelius Catroiadis, Claude Lefort and Jean Laplanche. ...

Editor's Introduction: From Postwar to Postmodern – Lyotard's “Interregnum” and After
Editor's introduction: From postwar to postmodern — Lyotard's “Interregnum” and after

Introduction

In his Introduction to Habermas and Modernity (1985) – a collection of essays which includes Richard Rorty's “Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity” – Richard Bernstein argued that resisting postmodernism and defending rationality were the crucial challenges of the time:

For we live in an era when there is a suspicion of reason, and of the very idea of universal validity claims that can be justified through argument. There is a rage against humanism and the Enlightenment legacy. We hear of “postmodernity,” “postindustrialism,” “post-structuralism,” etc., but no one seems to be able to fill in the content of these “posts.” From all sides, we hear of ...

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