2 quotes from Postmodern Fables: ‘Saddam Hussein is a product of Western departments of state and big companies, just as Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco we. . In “A Postmodern Fable” Lyotard narrates the story of the universe from its creation In Lyotard’s philosophy, the postmodern is ambivalent in three main ways. Postmodern Fables by Jean-Francois Lyotard, , available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide.

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William Schultz In “A Postmodern Fable” Lyotard narrates the story of the universe postmoderb its creation to nine billion years later when the sun in our solar system is com- pletely burnt out and the intelligent life on earth–no longer human–must leave in spaceships Moralites Chapter 6; Fables Midway in the 1story exists the human race during cables postmodern way of thinking. This situation suggests the hubris of our postmodern worldview and the consequent potential for disaster:.

Humans are very mistaken in their presuming to be the motors of [technological] development and in confusing development with the progress of con- sciousness and civilization. They are its products, vehicles, and witnesses.

Postmodern Fables – Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard – Google Books

Even the criticisms they may make of development, its inequality, its inconsistency, its fatality, its inhumanity, even these criticisms are expressions of development and contribute to it. These are always ambivalent for Humans, they bring them the best and the worst ; my emphasis.

This fable, published fourteen years after The Post- modern Condition, reads like a space-age equivalent of the Delphic Oracle, with the message warning us of the ambivalence of postmodernism and urging us to avoid its contemporary hubris [in the guise of tech- nology and unending progress] if we are to avoid the worst. In this passage there is the opposition of social progress and culture that is essential to the idea of postmldern postmodern.

In Lyotard’s philosophy, the postmodern is ambivalent in three main ways.

First, it is ambivalent insofar as its products bring us both good and evil, the technology of nuclear power is not possible without that of nuclear bombs. Quite often Lyotard writes negatively about the postmodernity lyootard popular culture but positively about the postmodernity of high culture art, science, philosophy, etc. This important ambivalent evaluation concerning the levels of the postmodern has been noticed by Jane Moore.

Making a related point, Albrecht Wellmer would attribute Lyotard’s mixed evaluation of post- modernism not so much to the difference of levels within contemporary culture as to the fact that change is occurring postmodwrn all levels and so the levels have not yet achieved the full benefits of the changes Thirdly, the term seems ambivalent in the sense of a confusion. Lyotard lyotarrd to use it the prefix “post” in a way different from the way it is usually used.

See Charles Jencks’ strong criticism of the use of the prefix by Lyotard.

Lyotard finally resorts to an unorthodox explanation in the form of the fable, which is most easily understood after a discussion of his entire theory originating almost twenty years earlier in The Post- modern Condition.

That Lyotard achieved his fame for his Post- modernism is surprising and ironic. It is so because he is most acclaimed for The Postmodern Condition even though he does not think it is his main book, nor does he even think it is a book of philosophy Ibid. In this phase Lyotard relies much on the use of narratives in knowledge there but not so much in works after it, as Geoffrey Bennington notices Writing 3.

Lyotard admits that he exaggerated the importance of narrative and that the book is less important than Le Differend. Law, Form, Event ; this first appeared in English he grounds Le Differend in the earlier works Economie Libidinale and Discours, figurethus pointing out the integral role of his theory of postmodernism in his whole career and the continuity of it, which has often been questioned by scholars.

Concerning the recognition of narrative as central to the processes of the human mind, Jameson praises Lyotard as “one of the few professional philosophers of stature anywhere formally to have” done so Foreword, PC xi.

If postmodernism is a stage on the way to some other period in Lyotard’s philosophy, it is nonethe- less beneficial to Lyotard’s lifework. He believes it helps him think about his already developed philosophical ideas in a broad historical context, especially in relation to the Enlightenment, and in the social context of his life, resulting in a greater understanding of their role MK 28; CPM 9; PC xxv.


The task assigned to Lyotard by the President of the Conseil des Universities of the government of Quebec was to write a report on the condition of knowledge in the most highly developed societies MK ; CPM 9; PC xxv.

The statement of the task implies a dual focus: This double focus influences the entire report. Lyotard, however, tries to find a single unifying principle of post- modern society and culture: What would such a paradox be? This is the single question to which his entire theory or post- modernism gives an answer.


Postmodern Fables Quotes

Its terms have become famous and, because they are so original, need to be defined now at length. The term “legitimacy,” coming from Jurgen Habermas, is related to “legislation” and shows a connection between science on the one hand, and ethics and politics on the other MK 41; CPM 20; PC 8.

These, Lyotard believes, are the two extremes of postmodernism: Lyotqrd meaning of a grand narrative or metanarrative is unique to Lyotard’s theory. He explicity defines it to mean a narrative “with a legitimating function”– legitimating an entire life and all the actions in it, powtmodern entire culture PE ; Correspondence They themselves require no further justification; the medieval dictum applies, “you must believe [in God] in order to understand [Him or anything else].

Lyotard’s most postmodeern and most quoted definition lyotsrd postmodernism is the “incredulity to metanarra- tives” MK 26; CPM 7; PC xxivthe crisis of modernity, the type of thinking modelled on metanar- ratives or grand narratives Moralites end of Chap- ter 6; Lyotarddand the rewriting of modernity L’Inhumain ; Inhuman Postmodern thinking is part of the modern, its self-correction, and in this respect Lyotard’s views reveal their origins in Der- rida’s deconstruction See Rodolphe Gasche’s “Deconstruction as Criticism”.

Modernism begins as Christianity, develops and diversifies into various grand narratives up to the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, partially into the nineteenth, and still occurs today. Lyotard divides them into two categories, the grand specula- tive narrative and the grand narrative of emancipa- tion. The speculative narrative refers to the belief that knowledge forms an ideal unity such that some- one might some day be able to understand all of the oostmodern in one theory.

Quite often Lyotard refers to German idealistic philosophy. He also refers to Romanticism, which believed in the supreme unending development of the individual psyche L’Inhumain 5- 36; Inhuman The narrative of emancipation gives hope to people that one day they will be free or that their situa- tion will be better. It structures and justifies social institutions, political practices, laws, ethics, and ways of thinking in everyday life and dealings with other people, just as the myths of the classical period before them did PE ; Cor- respondence After Christianity, types of this social narrative are Enlightenment political rationalism, democracy, Romanticism, capitalism and the opposite, Marxism.

These types do not neces- sarily peacefully cooexist; for example, Romanticism as the interpretation of the will in terms of infinite enrichment is partially a reaction to capitalism as the interpretation of the will as infinite acquisition and domination “Appendice svelte a la question postmoderne” ; Political Sometimes they do, however, as when a factory owner justifies his oppression of workers and his obsession with work by reference to a Christian duty.

Lyotard must have decided to divide modernist thinking into these two categories so that they might parallel the two extremes of postmodern cul- ture: This double focus was implicit in the original task set for Lyotard–the discussion of knowledge in advanced societies.

Modernism begins to decline or lose its credibility when there is increased communication between different cultures of the world during the nineteenth century “Histoire Lyotard seems to be thinking that, even though the weaker and less advanced cultures were always essentially assimilated, the numerous, and worldwide struggles with the European grand narratives made them suspect and pointed to their deficiencies which less advanced cultures did not have to suffer.

It also begins to decline as industrialization develops. Industrialization brings with it new ways of doing everything. Also, Lyotard mentions that an “internal erosion” of grand narratives occurred simultaneously with the rise of the new thinking based on means, not based on one final end in Englightenment eschatology MK ; CPM 65; PC A self-destruction of the narrative of emancipa- tion occurs.

Through the course of time workers and other minority groups come to realize that the hope for which they have lived is not changing their status as minority groups despite some achievement along the way of their original demands. The ideal is indeed infinite. No promised land relieves reality of its burdens, as if the ideal could become real. The fall of communism and the repeated dis- illusionment of the American dream are opposite yet complimentary political examples verifying Lyotard’s general claim.

He believes the decline is completed in the s, not in the sense of an historical period called modernism and its replacement by a postmodernism, but in the sense that the full fea- tures of a postmodernist thinking appear at least as early as the s MK 29; CPM 11; PC 3.

The change to postmodernism is a change in the way people think about the world using time. Lyotard distinguishes three types of worldviews using time: In classical thinking, life has meaning through the past, in a founder of a com- munity, perhaps an original hero, or a present and acting hero or god or human.

The sense of the character of the community and the individual is not a problem because the myths or stories are retold and the feeling of identity is renewed, and so felt to be immediate and direct in the present. Concern- ing the future, the purpose of life and the sense of the sacred are not deferred to an ideal or infinite future; they are indwelling in the everyday life.


Life is cyclically ordered like the seasons of nature myths are based on a circulus vitiosus in “Histoire The reward for living does not come after it is over. There could be no “judgment day,” no single apocalypse as a separate day at the end of one’s life or the end of the human race; there would be many rewards and judgments, and they would be different depending upon recent events or the situations and one’s behavior.

In modern thinking, what is essential and distinc- tive is the grand narratives, since they project the meaning and value of life “forward while founding it in a lost origin,” which helps to create a linear, forward moving history as opposed to a cyclical renewable cosmos of the classical civilizations Like classical thinking, modern thinking believes the past has value, but as a different period leading to the present.

In the present, the modern mind feels a “lack,” which would be filled only at the end of a life when the subject could be redeemed by God. Modern people live for a purpose to be fulfilled later. The modern way of thinking declines when people no longer believe they must merely project their lives toward a future ideal that always seems just as far away.

Postmodern Fables

Instead, they must “program” exactly what this future is going to be L’Inhumain ; Inhuman 68 ; so they begin to live more and more in the future, thinking about it, planning it, and hardly ever in the present, as the American sociologist Philip Slater points out in The Pursuit of Loneliness.

In the frenzy for progress the past tends to be cut off from current vital interests, and the present is fragmented into separate projects designed to make the future exist today–a contradiction in terms.

The life style of living more in the future than in the present, so to speak, is postmodern. A very different kind of culture is the traditional Chinese, in which ancestors were worshipped and thought of a lot and old age was a positive trait to be respected.

It still remains to be seen what the postmodern believes in, and bases the meaning of life on, if anything. Quite often, the phrase “the meaning of life” immediately provokes laughter or dismissal as devoid of specific content.

This temporal thinking can be a kind of pervasive melan- choly in postmodern society, a feeling of no direc- tion in life, a nostalgia for grand narratives to give meaning to individuals and pattern a life ready-made, as it were. The end of modernism causes three kinds of social disorder or cultural vacumn modeled on the term “power vacumn” to denote the sudden loss of politi- cal power due to assasination or revolution: For example the nineteenth-century worker still knows neighbors, does not travel far to work, and feels united to fellow workers in the common cause for better conditions.

In contrast, these bonds are broken when the twentieth-century worker often does not know the neighbors, travels far to work, which reduces the time spent with the family, and no longer has the desire to struggle for better working conditions.

A related type of cultural vacumn is the loss of personal identity. Routine work of all kinds destroys initiative, redirects desire away from the product of work and toward money, which increasingly comes to seem arbitrary because the link between labor and reward–the objects of consumption– becomes indirect and all but forgotten. The accompanying types of leisure such as television in the home that tends to replace conversation complete the process of depersonalization.

The decline of modernism leads to a third kind of cultural vacumn: See Thomas Docherty’s “Postmodernist Theory: Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Others”. The sense in everyday life that there is no meaning or that everything is artificial comes ultimately from the nature of the West to abandon its ideals for new ones during its evolution Moralites and ; Fables In doing so values are reconceived along with reality, and the Westerners get “a melancholic satisfaction” in the contemplation of the ruined ideals, melancholy being a common feeling in the postmodern attitude.

The historical sense of post- moderners is to regard itself as immortal or at the end of civilization because all the others have been past and thus acquire the potential value of material for museums. The cultural identity is that of the borrower or user of previous culture, the commentator on culture, and the anti-cultural stance of popular culture with only personal criteria of value.

Not just concerning the postmodern sense of history, but also in everyday life there is “the loss of objects and the ascendency of the imaginary over reality” Moralites ; Fables There is so much information and it changes so quickly that an atmosphere of meaninglessness or unreality accompanies the present event. Or, a futility in assimilating reality if felt.