Lyotard and the End of Grand Narratives

Gary K. Browning

Gary K. Browning

Distributed for University of Wales Press

205 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2000
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780708314791 Published May 2000 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only
Jean-François Lyotard is generally acknowledged as the theoretical spokesperson for postmodernism.  In 1979, his seminal work The Postmodern Condition challenged the presumption and orientation of modern political philosophy.  In particular, Lyotard repudiated the notion of grand narratives and promoted a postmodern acceptance of difference and variety and a skepticism towards unifying metatheories.  Yet The Postmodern Condition is just one work by a prolific author whose life and work involved close theoretical engagement with Kant, Hegel and Marx and who played a prominent role in the events in Paris of May 1968.
This study combines a careful reading of Lyotard's texts with a critical review of his theoretical ploys to demonstrate the incapacity of theory.  Lyotard's variety of styles, ranging from the incandescent Libidinal Economy to the economical lucidity of The Differend, are recognized as posing questions for those who defend the rationality of the status quo and for those who undertake general critiques of society.  In this book, Gary Browning takes issue with Lyotard's approach to Hegel and Marx and his generalized notion of social development as proceeding according to a one-dimensional, instrumentalist logic.  Nevertheless, Lyotard is shown to be a disturbing theorist who challenged the assumptions of classic theorists of modernity as well as opposing mainstream attitudes prevalent in contemporary political theory.
1   Introduction
2   Postmodernity and the Delegitimation of Modernity
3   The Development of Lyotard's Thought: From Phenomenology to the Game of Justice
4   Beyond the Postmodern Condition: The Differend and After
5   Lyotard and the Political
6   Hegel and The Critique of Closure
7   Marx and the End of Emancipation
8   Conclusion
Select Bibliography
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