Lyotard and Politics

A Critical Introduction

Stuart Sim

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Establishes Lyotard as the most politically committed of contemporary sceptical thinkers
  • Analyses Lyotard’s key concepts in terms of their political implications
  • Applies the 'little narrative' notion to current ideological struggles
  • Analyses the role played by relativism in contemporary political thought, particularly Lyotard's sustained attempts to reconcile relativism with value judgement

It is Jean François Lyotard’s political focus that singles him out from his poststructuralist and postmodernist contemporaries. He is invariably 'thinking politics': finding ways of translating philosophical thought into a basis for political action. Stuart Sim explores how Lyotard’s brand of pragmatism can provide a focus for political theory and action in our cultural climate, especially in light of the dramatic resurgence of right-wing extremism.

1. Introduction: Thinking Politics with Lyotard Lyotard's StyleNotes

2. 'Philosophical Politics' in the 21st CenturyPhilosophers and IntellectualsLyotard's PostmodernismPeregrinations: Thinking Politics FluidlyLeft PopulismPosthegemony and PopulismLittle Narratives and Liberal DemocracyPhilosophers Against the SystemNotes

3. Relativism and the Problem of Value JudgementJust RelativisingJudging FascismJudging LyotardPragmatic RelativismConclusionNotes

4. Lyotard and the Post-Marxist TurnThe Rise of Post-MarxismAlgeria: The Limits of Marxist ThoughtLibidinal Economy: Marx and DesireThe Answer to Grand Narrative: The Postmodern ConditionThe Viability of Post-MarxismConclusion Notes

5. The Politics of the DifferendThe Archipelago and DifferendsGender and the DifferendThe Nation State and the DifferendInternal DifferendsConclusionNotes

6. The Politics of HeideggerFarías on Heidegger Derrida on HeideggerLyotard and the Sin of ForgettingLyotard as Anti-PopulistScapegoating and 'the Jews'Heidegger Post-LyotardNotes

7. Thinking the Politics of the FutureOf Cyborgs and Cybernetic Systems'Can Thought Go On Without a Body?'Corporate Power and Robot LabourThe End is NighNotes

8. Aesthetics and PoliticsDuchamp and Aesthetic IndeterminacyModernisms and PostmodernismsNewman: No AllusionsMonory: No StoryLyotard on LiteratureLyotard on FilmLyotard on TelevisionLyotard on MusicConclusionNotes

9. Conclusion: Towards a Politics of the EventLiving with EventsSvelte PoliticsPagan PoliticsReassessing the EventLyotard as a Work of ArtDissension and Invention'How to Judge Jean-François Lyotard?'Notes

Bibliography, Index

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It is genuinely intellectually refreshing and invigorating to see Lyotard treated with the urgent seriousness that Sim brings to his work. With an impressive grasp of the entirety of Lyotard’s philosophical politics, Sim gives us the opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to understand Lyotard’s continued pertinence for anyone who would be both critical and political.
Thomas Docherty, University of Warwick
Stuart Sim is retired Professor of Critical Theory at Northumbria University. He has published widely on critical theory, and is a Fellow of the English Association. Amongst his recent publications are The Lyotard Dictionary (2011), Addicted to Profit: Reclaiming Our Lives from the Free Market (2012), Fifty Key Postmodern Thinkers (2013), and, with Brett Wilson and Barbara Hawkins (eds) Art, Science & Cultural Understanding (2014).

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