Lyotard’s Notion of ‘The Differend’: The Critique of Meta-narrative Approach to Ethics


Being a political philosopher Lyotard’s aim was to establish a philosophy through which the society could find ways to legitimate different incommensurable narratives to build a just society. He considers ethics as pedestal of justice to regress all kind of wrongs, occurring in our society. So, the aims of this paper are to state the ways to solve all differend in litigation and critique the meta-narrative approach to ethics by following Lyotard’s ‘The Differend’ (1983). In the first section the paper will present Lyotard’s demonstration of the ‘differend’, how the differend amounts to a critique of the meta-narrative to the ‘ethics’ through a densely detailed analysis of Lyotard’s examples from various spheres of life_war, politics, litigations, literary or cultural achievements. According to Lyotard, due to the differend the wrong happens and as it result injustice takes place in the society. In order to build a just society and also to avoid the wrong Lyotard introduced some new concepts of ‘event’, ‘phrase’, ‘narratives’ through which people can save themselves from becoming a victim of ‘Wrong’. The crucial confusion between ‘wrong’ and ‘damage’ incurred in the meta-narrative theories will be brought out in the connexion. Secondly, it also gives an account of the formal logical tools that Lyotard uses to expose the modernist conflation of the first order and the second order discourse which is involved in all meta-narratives. Specific illustration of these tools like Lyotard’s treatment of the Protagoras and Euthlas dilemma in litigation will be fully analyzed in the context.

Author Information
Sarmistha Nandy, University of Delhi, India

Paper Information
Conference: ACERP2020
Stream: Ethics - Ethics, Law, and Justice

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon