File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0104, message 26

Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001 20:53:41 +1000
Subject: Re: Differend


My query is a result of thinking about the differend in the wider context,
from The Postmodern Condition to Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime. 

The most often-quoted descriptions of the diff, such as below, don't
include the imperative I find elsewhere: 
"Litigation takes place. I would like to call a differend (le differend)
the case where the plaintiff  is divested of the means to argue and becomes
for that reason a victim. . . . A case of differend between two parties
takes place when the ‘regulation’ of the conflict that opposes them is done
in the idiom of one of the parties while the wrong suffered by the other is
not signified in that idiom."
"In this sense, a phrase that comes along is put into play within a
conflict between genres of discourse. This conflict is a differend, since
the success (or the validation) proper to one genre is not the one proper
to others."

In other words, "takes place" and "put into play" do not have the same
urgency, which it seems to me, is neccessary for the diff to be different
from mere disagreement, or a case of apples and oranges. Sure, apples and
oranges are fine, and incommensurable, but they don't have anything to say
to each other. Why, for example, should we actively seek out the differend
between apples and oranges, and how would this defend the honour of thought.

The particular "tenor" of the diff I'm wondering about is suggested, for
example, in this from "Lessons on the Analytic of the Sublime":

"This differend is to be found at the heart of sublime feeling: at the
encounter of the two ‘absolutes’ equally ‘present’ to thought, the
absolute whole when it conceives, the absolutely measured when it
presents.  ‘Meeting’ conveys very little; it is more of a
confrontation, for, in accordance with its destination, which is to be
whole, the absolute of concepts demands to be presented.... 
Their being put into relation abolishes each of them as absolute. 
But if each must remain the absolute it continues to be its own sole
recourse, its court of appeal, unaware of the other.  This conflict is
not an ordinary dispute, which a third instance could grasp and put
an end to, but a ‘differend’." (LAS 123-4)

The opposing things of the diff don't just happen across each other, it's
not just a 'meeting'. Nor is it just a confrontation. The things are in a
state of 'demand'. 

So it seems to me that it's not just incommensurability but
indissociability that "defines" the diff.


At 01:03 AM 4/14/01 -0400, hugh bone wrote:
>That's not the way I remember it.  Don't have the book - maybe you could
>cite.  Apples and oranges aren't so bad.
>I never could start a discussion of "Le Differend" although there were a lot
>of interesting (to me) ideas.
>> Hi Hugh,
>> I'm not sure to what extent this has been discussed, but is it perhaps the
>> defining characteristic of a differend that two incommensurable positions
>> are somehow - necessarily - "locked-in", i.e. they just can't leave each
>> other/the issue alone. Like two fighters chained together - impossible to
>> turn their backs on one another.
>> In the absence of this aspect we would just have apples and oranges. Or
>> old saw "the opposite of a great truth is another great truth", which is
>> pretty uninteresting ... unless there is a singular dynamic which forever
>> "forces" the confrontation.
>> Any thoughts?
>> Reg
>> At 05:14 PM 4/13/01 -0400, hugh bone wrote:
>> >Hi Don, et. al.,
>> >
>> >Yes, it was a great struggle over words.
>> >
>> >To over-simplify, a differend is a wrong for which one does not have the
>> >words to contest the accusation, or the words presented are thrown out of
>> >court etc..
>> >
>> >The Humpty-Dumpty meaning, from Alice in Wonderland, "A word means what I
>> >mean it to mean, no more and no less," seemed to prevail, at the end of
>> >dispute.
>> >
>> >A few years ago, parts of "Le Differend" were on-line at U.Cal. at
>> >Irvine where Lyotard had taught, but don't know if it is there now.
>> >have the link.
>> >
>> >Best,
>> >Hugh
>> >
>> >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> >
>> >> I have never been able to quite bring myself to buy the Differend. Are
>> >their
>> >> any internet papers that offer the Readers Digest version? I understand
>> >the
>> >> differend to be two incommensurable viewpoints with incommensurability
>> >being
>> >> a somewhat complex term.
>> >>
>> >> I believe that the deal that was struck between the US and China was
>> >> the Chinese leadership was allowed to tell their citizens that the US
>> >> apologized without the US objecting and that the US was allowed to tell
>> >> their citizens that they did not apologize without the Chinese
>> >>
>> >> In other words they agreed to disagree but to keep their disagreements
>> >> private. Is that a sort of differend?
>> >>
>> >> Or is a simple disagreement on what constitutes spying a differend? I
>> >> heard the media criticized for calling the US plane a spy plane. In
>> >> case spying is only done when the spy is in enemy territory. Apparently
>> >> China believes that spying is spying no matter where the spy resides.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> Don
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >


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