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Lyotard, Jean-François (1924–1998)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE017-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved September 24, 2021, from

Article Summary

Jean-François Lyotard was a prominent French philosopher who is generally considered the leading theorist of postmodernism. His work constitutes an insistent critique of philosophical closure, historical totalization and political dogmatism and a re-evaluation of the nature of ethics, aesthetics and politics after the demise of totalizing metatheories.

In his early works, Lyotard confronts the limitations of dialectical philosophy and structuralist linguistics and analyses the disruptive, extradiscursive force of desire and the nonrepresentational or figurative dimensions of art and literature. In La Condition postmoderne (1979a) (The Postmodern Condition, 1984), he treats narrative pragmatics and language games as the bases for a critical approach to postmodern art and politics, as well as to the problem of justice. Recent texts insist on the obligation of philosophy, politics and writing to bear witness to heterogeneity and to what is repressed or forgotten in all representations of the past. His work questions the limits of philosophy, aesthetics and political theory in terms of problems linked to the irreducible complexities of art and literature and the nonrepresentational affects of historical-political events.

Citing this article:
Carroll, David. Lyotard, Jean-François (1924–1998), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE017-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2021 Routledge.

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