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The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  4,913 ratings  ·  170 reviews
This book explores science and technology, makes connections between these epistemic, cultural, and political trends, and develops profound insights into the nature of our post-modernity. Many definitions of postmodernism focus on its nature as the aftermath of the modern industrial age when technology developed. This book extends that analysis to postmodernism by looking ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published June 21st 1984 by University of Minnesota Press (first published April 1979)
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Facundo Marín It's a concept of Wittgenstein. He used it in "Philosophical Investigations". I can't explain in clearly in english, but look for the concept. It's a …moreIt's a concept of Wittgenstein. He used it in "Philosophical Investigations". I can't explain in clearly in english, but look for the concept. It's a pragmatist conception of language. (less)

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Glenn Russell
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Believe Anything by artist Barbara Kruger

Language games along with technology coloring knowledge and coding messages, anyone? Welcome to The Postmodern Condition by French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998). In the spirit of freshness and as a way of providing what I hope is a unique angle on the philosopher’s abstract theory, below are quotes from the text along with my observations incorporating what I judge to be a near-perfect literary example of Lyotard’s presentation of postmode
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
Well before Big Data there were ominous whispers. That is how I recall this book's bark at my door: fear tinged with the excitement of change Sometime between the collapse of the Wall and the Towers, I was forever fearful of a mis-step. The world was tumultuous and I lacked all grace. I was late to the Theory party. I was blind drunk on my Nietzsche, sort of mumbled through the grotesque parts of Foucault (though it was his biographies that have resonated) with Derrida and the Rhizome Twins (D a ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Donald Trump, the vilest president ever, instinctively knows of what this author was laying out in 1979. Trump successfully does everything in his power to sow doubts in good-faith reality based news sources by declaring they are fake news and confusing us with ‘alternative facts’. Hitler called it ‘Jew Press’, and would say if ‘you could only read the Protocols of Elder than you would understand’; Trump will say ‘climate change is a Chinese hoax’, ‘vaccines cause autism’, or ‘both sides have go ...more
Barnaby Thieme
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
I can't help but think the main reason this book remains in currency is because it is widely regarded as the locus classicus for a definition and analysis of the term "postmodernism," which Lyotard did not invent. Nor, in my mind, did he add much to European culture's self-understanding of the broad cultural tendencies amalgamated under that porous banner.

Lyotard loosely defines postmodernism as a suspicion of meta-narratives, arguing that ideas can no longer be afforded legitimacy purely by re
Steven Peterson
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This work, by Jean Francois Lyotard, is one of the signature works of postmodern theory. Say what you will of this perspective, this book is necessary reading in understanding the subject. This is not an easy work; however, those who persevere will be rewarded with interesting insights, whether or not one agree with postmodern thinking.

Lyotard defines Postmodern thought in contrast to modernism. Modernism, he claims, is ". . .any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
author proclaims the end of liberalism and Marxism because Wittgenstein. Or Nazis. Or Something.
Esteban del Mal
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
"The needs of the most underprivileged should not be used as a system regulator as a matter of principle: since the means of satisfying them is already known, their actual satisfaction will not improve the system's performance, but only increase its expenditures. The only counterindication is that not satisfying them can destabilize the whole. It is against the nature of force to be ruled by weakness. But it is in its nature to induce new requests meant to lead to a redefinition of the norms of ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Let us wage war on totality; let us be witness to the unpresentable; let us activate the differences and save the honor of the name"
Sharad Pandian
I'm really not an expert on the genres this 1979 book draws from, but some of the other reviews seem so beside the point, I include a critical summary:

A summary in my words, in three parts

A. Narratives vs. science

Lyotard makes a distinction between narratives and science, where narratives are apparently the manner in which older societies organized themselves. By focusing on "popular sayings, proverbs, and maxims," he argues that it is narratives that consume/elide history, while Science preser
Sep 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Lyotard spends the far majority of the main work describing society's move away from the two modern metanarratives: speculation and emancipation, representing the twin desires of knowing the unknown and knowing justice. The modern, scientific world has drawn on one or another of these two narratives in an attempt to legitimize its knowledge of the world, only to find that it cannot do so within itself. In other words, the modern world has been so concerned with creating a tight, logical totality ...more
Its main saving grace is its brevity. For the parts that discuss science, I found myself perpetually asking "really?" While certain, small insights seem wise, I found the concept of the "decline of the grand narrative," which stands at the centerpiece of the work, to be a total pretention. Indeed, Lyotard considered the work a failure, yet it still stands as his most famous work stateside. Eh, fuck this book. ...more
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: spring-2008
The Postmodern Condition is about the dominance of scientific knowledge over that of narrative, and the related death of meta-narratives. The performativity principle underlined by late capitalism plays a crucial role in the subordination of the narrative form simply because narration is not instrumental in creating capital. Lyotard argues that narration seeks to consume the past and generate a way of forgetting, while on the other hand, scientific knowledge focuses on the prevalent shortages of ...more
Philip of Macedon
There are worse ways to spend a Sunday than reading Jean-Francois Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition, but none involve reading. Reading this cemented in my mind the importance of what Epictetus said about philosophy, which is that it is purposeless without applicability to one’s life, actions, or way of understanding and processing the world. I’m paraphrasing. Given this starting point, which I think is defensible, I can’t see any value in Lyotard’s contribution to philosophy, here. One should k ...more
Derek Brown
Jul 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
"By the end of the Discourse on Method, Descartes is already asking for laboratory funds. A new problem appears: devices that optimize the performance of the human body for the purpose of producing proof require additional expenditures. No money, no proof-and that means no verification of statements and no truth. The games of scientific language become the games of the rich, in which whoever is wealthiest has the best chance of being right. An equation between wealth, efficiency, and truth is th ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
It seems like post-modernism is a current that I am beginning to enjoy. The only problem is that they can't help becoming sociological studies with proposals about what should happen, while I usually like my philosophy more abstract and more focused on the individual. This book aims to deal with the status of knowledge in postmodern societies, by focusing on the narratives that run through it and which without them, scientific knowledge is basically blind. It's basically the old idea that scienc ...more
Postmodernism, What now?

After the fall of the grand narratives, and the establishment of chaos as the philosophical reference to 'small truths,’ how can we succeed to find something accurate enough to last a long long time?

For Lyotard, the age of the ‘universal’ the ‘one-transcending-truth’ ‘I-understood-it-all’ fell down to let us swaying on unstable grounds. So what now? Will we rebuild once again our way to truth, a universal truth even? Or will we stay busy with local truths?
Prescient but often tedious.
Momina Masood
Jameson's introduction to this is goalz. Fairly accessible read. Have a feeling that I'll keep coming back to this as academic life continues. What is life without Theory, maann!! ...more
Sam Thomas
May 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Things were a lot more optimistic in the 70s
Gregory Duke
I can't really reasonably rate this. I have no barometer. I find Lyotard's overuse of references without great elaboration to be a bit of a journey as someone who really has no grounded foundation in philosophy.

I began writing notes, and then they became more of a representation of my manic experience struggling to ascertain the bigger picture:

Xxiv postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives

1. The field
Pg3 societies enter postindustrial/cultures enter postmodern
Pg 5 Knowledge in the form o
Alex Petkus
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maxwell Foley
May 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this book because it was recommended to me in the context of trying to understand the philosophy of postmodernism. Now, I think I have in fact understood this philosophy myself - essentially it is a willingness to work with multiple shifting methods of understanding reality, rather than demanding a single unchanging framework in which to view our world. However, it seemed like I should read the actual writings of those who established this philosophy, in order to make sure my understandin ...more
Povilas Račkauskas
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nice short (relatively) easy read. Does what it sets out to do.
нєνєℓ  ¢ανα
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Thought provoking and insightful....
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
What happens when you take a step away from your day-to-day life, your family background, your culture, your history and examine the 'narratives' that shape what you know, value and understand about the world? Take it one step further and ask why do these narratives or grand-narratives (metanarratives) such as Marxism or Enlightenment exist thereby shaping human behavior? How do we then legitimize narrative knowledge over an historical landscape leading to our current conditions (that the author ...more
Jun 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Lyotard presents a fine observation on the language-games of society and its recent transformations, but it is difficult to say that his observations amount to a convincing argument, especially when his examples are drawn from difficult studies like the advanced fields of science and technology, of which he is not an expert. His defense is his disclaimer that he had "less than limited" knowledge of the sciences and that the text was almost a parody of books he hadn't read and studies he hadn't m ...more
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Given that the ostensible topic of this book is something that many have tried to tackle in some manner or another, I was expecting this text to be rather dense and maybe even impossible to understand. Instead, I found a rather accessible overview of the effects that scientific thinking have engendered on the fields of culture, art, and education, as the scientific mindset has altered the definition, character, and content of what we would term "knowledge." Lyotard's analysis is somewhat dense, ...more
Chris Michael
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fantastic work explaining the Post Modern condition. I read most of this as part of a class on Post Modernism, and began reading the book as skeptical on what I had been learning in class, and walked away a believer. Lyotard is challenging, but very understandable if you give the text the proper amount of attention. I would recommend this to anybody who needs some clarification about what postmodernism actually is, especially in regards to its contention with modernism. What seems like pretentio ...more
Craig Langon
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Postmodern has its good and its bad sides but if you really want to get to know the subject it's best not to rely too much on introductory texts that truncate and misrepresent the arguments of the movement. Therein is the problem, Postmodernism is often wrapped in impenetrable, obscurantist language. It is that way for a reason.

Lyotard's seminal The Postmodern Condition is one of the easier works to get to grips with, especially, compared to say, Deleuze and Guattari's works. This makes it inval
Keegan Ferrell
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have always been fascinated by postmodern philosophy, but at times, I felt overwhelmed by my uncertainty as to what the definition of “postmodern” truly is. I have found that thinkers and writers can be fairly liberal with the term, labeling all sorts of seemingly disparate strands of thought as postmodern. I picked up Lyotard’s Postmodern Condition in order to get to the source of what postmodern philosophy is. Before I dive into my thoughts and brief summary of the main points, I want to pre ...more
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Jean-François Lyotard (DrE, Literature, University of Paris X, 1971) was a French philosopher and literary theorist. He is well-known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and for his analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition.

He went to primary school at the Paris Lycées Buffon and Louis-le-Grand and later began studying philosophy at the Sorbonne. After g

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