`Ross Abbinnett brings a keen and subtle philosophical mind to bear on themes and debates that have become commonplace in sociology. This is a sinuously written book which casts new light on pressing contemporary issues. It is required reading for everyone who wants to think seriously and with an open mind about the terrain of the present' - Keith Tester, Professor of Sociology, University of Portsmouth This incisive and timely book provides a concise and reliable guide to the debate on modernity and postmodernity. In particular the work of Lyotard, Beck, Bauman, Baudrillard, Giddens, Jameson and Derrida is critically reviewed. Culture and Identity provides: a thorough and accessible discussion of the main themes in the modernity-postmodernity debate; a shrewd and penetrating account of how these themes address everyday life; a novel account of how technology is altering our perceptions of the `human'; and a balanced account of the hope for radical politics and radical critique to correct the excesses of capitalism. What emerges most forcefully from the book is the error of dismissing postmodernism as a self-indulgent and ultimately, dangerous piece of ideology. Abbinnett provides a pertinent reminder of the continuing importance of the themes and challenges raised in the `postmodern moment'.

The Postmodern and the Sublime

The postmodern and the sublime


The question I will address in this chapter concerns Jean-Francois Lyotard's defence of the moral and political significance of the aesthetic within the economy of universal simulation. Ultimately, his work on the sublime is an attempt to salvage a sense of transcendence from the feelings of shock, agitation and disquiet that arise from the ‘lack of reality’ implicit in ‘postmodern’ societies. In order to understand what is at stake in Lyotard's attempt to reconfigure the relationship between culture, aesthetics and politics therefore, we need to look at:

  • his configuration of the relationship between ‘modernity’ and ‘post-modernity’;
  • the account of the relationship between the dissolution of the social bond, the proliferation of heterogeneous ‘language games’ and the end of ...
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