Wild Normativity: Lyotard's Search for an Ethical Antihumanism

Title: Wild Normativity: Lyotard's Search for an Ethical Antihumanism
Authors: McLennan, Matthew
Date: 2011
Abstract: In spite of its thematic and stylistic heterogeneity, Jean-François Lyotard’s corpus may be plausibly interpreted as, by and large, an attempt to grapple with the following problem set: a) In general: if we reject all transcendent/systematic philosophical frameworks, can we consistently make normative claims? Can we ground them in any way? Do we need to? b) In particular: if we reject the philosophical framework of humanism, what does this mean for ethics and/or politics? Can one be an antihumanist without abandoning ethics? The basic issue is over the titular possibility of a “wild normativity” – that is, a normativity that does not derive its force from any kind of transcendent guarantor. As I reconstruct him, Lyotard begins from a methodological rejection of transcendent guarantors in general; this plays itself out in particular terms as a rejection of humanism. Thus, beginning from a thought not of universality and totality but of singularity and difference, and wishing at a certain point in his career to ensure that the problem of justice stays firmly on the agenda, Lyotard gives us to think the very possibility of an ethical antihumanism. My dissertation is both an interpretation of Lyotard’s work as it unfolds in time, as well as a contribution to thinking through the general-particular problem set that I argue is at play in his work.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/20224
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -