The ethics of heterogeneity : a speculative critique of Jean-François Lyotard's "The differend"

The thesis is an attempt to develop a speculative (Hegelian) critique of the ethical and political questions raised by Jean-Francois Lyotard's book The Differend. I have argued that these questions are dependent upon the reading of Kant's three Critiques, and his political essays, which Lyotard develops in The Differend's four `notices' on Kant, and that it is this reading which opens up his concept of difference (`heterogeneity') to the possibility of a speculative critique. Chapter one comprises an examination of Lyotard's attempt to establish speculative thinking's dependence upon a metaphysical idea of the self as the possibility of ethical sublation. I have argued that Lyotard's appropriation of Adorno's idea of "Auschwitz" as blocking dialectical sublation, fails to recognize the speculative significance of the concrete conditions which produced the historical emergence of Nazism. The following three chapters are concerned to develop the argument that Lyotard's misrepresentation of the spirituality of Hegel's philosophy, conditions his reading of the critical philosophy as disclosing the possibility of a spontaneous (ethical) judgement of difference. Chapter two argues that Lyotard's claim to show critical subjectivity to be a `litigation' of self-conscious faculties, fails to recognize the actual lack of unity which characterizes Kant's `transcendental unity of apperception'. The exclusion of `otherness', which Lyotard claims is disclosed and suppressed in Kant's notion of cognitive experience, actually necessitates concrete selfrecognition. In chapter three, Lyotard's attempt to abstract an ethical `obligation without conditions' from Kant's critical morality is interrogated. I have argued that the aporias constituted through the spontaneity of practical reason, are reinforced through Lyotard's concept of `ethical time'. The final chapter develops a speculative approach to the notions of ethics and politics which Lyotard abstracts from the Third Critique. I have argued that the notion of an `unpredetermined' judgement which Lyotard articulates in the final sections of The Differend, constitutes a subjective `culture' which is ultimately non-ethical and apolitical
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