The Catastrophe to Come: Lyotard's Differend and the Tragedy of the Ecological

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Taking its departure from The Differend's analysis of Auschwitz as a sign for the evental character of history, I argue that the looming ecological disaster we now face reveals both the continuing relevance and limits of Lyotard's thought. While the form of political agency of the catastrophe to come involves a differend, this differend cannot be attached to a proper name, however problematic its mode of signification. This, however, suggests the even greater relevance of Lyotard's treatment, in the conclusion of The Differend, of capitalism in terms of temporal contradiction, as well as his theorization of oikos and ecology in subsequent works, where he distinguishes between the economic and the ecological. This distinction, I conclude, is rendered problematic by the catastrophe to come, as indeed is any attempt to draw an absolute distinction between "philosophical politics"and mere technocratic management or even to exclude speculation from the heart of philosophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-383
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophy Today
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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