Fri 25 Sep, 2009 06:46 pm
Popularizer of the Postmodern
(1924 - 1998)
La Condition Postmoderne, which would secure his reputation in the 1980s and 1990s, where he travelled around the world to lecture about postmodern thinking. Lyotard died in Paris, France in 1998.
Lyotard's most popular work, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge contains his two popular ideas: the conversion of knowledge into information technology and the collapse of the Grand Narrative. Instead of knowledge conceived as an objective thing, Lyotard suggests that knowledge will become local commodities subject to economic, technological, and political changes. What kinds of information, how the information is disseminated and transmitted, and where the information goes will eventually be subjected to those constraints: "the miniaturisation and commercialisation of machines is already changing the way in which learning is acquired, classified, made available, and exploited. It is reasonable to suppose that the proliferation of information-processing machines is having, and will continue to have, as much of an effect on the circulation of learning as did advancements in human circulation (transportation systems) and later, in the circulation of sounds and visual images (the media)."
The collapse of knowledge from an objective thing to a local commodity heralds the postmodern collapse of the Grand Narrative, a theory which holds that everything about human history or history of the universe can be explained under one story or narrative. The collapse of the Grand Narrative will leave many language games in its wake, each with its own set of knowledge, rules on how to manipulate that knowledge, and incommensurable with each other.
Thanks for the post. What I have read of Lyotard is very readable and very excellent. I think of him as the most understandable of the Postmoderns. Postmodern Condition is excellent.
I don't see you online much lately but I'm wondering if, the next time you stop by, you can write a few lines about the controversy between Lyotard and Habbermas. Would it be correct to say that the root of their disagreement lies in Lyotard's disbelief in the existence of a legitimate "universal subject" while Habbermas still believes in the existence of the same?
Also your comments, if you have any, on a thread I just started