File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 124

Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001 14:44:50 +0100
Subject: Plea: help

Hello all,

I'm a student in the UK studying for an MA in Political Philosophy at
the University of York. I'm currently writing my dissertation on Lyotard
and thought this might be a good place to ask for a little assistance: a
bottle tossed into the ocean, containing the simple message 'Help'.
  My confusion concerns the status of prescriptions in 'Au Juste'.
Lyotard says that in prescriptions 'the position of the sender, as
authority that obligates, is left vacant. That is, the prescriptive
utterance comes from nothing' ('Just gaming', Minneapolis: University of
Minnesota Press, 1996, p. 72).
  Fair enough, but he also admits to being the addressor of
prescriptions himself (ibid., p. 59). How can he reconcile these two
positions? Is it because his prescriptions are only 'instructions' and
therefore limited and temporary (p. 58)? But surely there is a
difference between instructions and prescriptions, and he explicitly
states that he issues the latter. 
  Is he saved because paganism is an Idea (in the Kantian sense)? But
Ideas are not prescriptions and besides, he also says that prescriptions
'cannot be made into the conclusions of a reasoning' (p.64): isn't an
Idea a conclusion of reason? Isn't that use of reason the source of
pleasure in the Kantian feeling of the sublime, when we discover there
is no intuition we can present to confirm the Idea (and hence feel pain
at the same time)?
  In addition, we're told 'that which ought cannot be concluded from
that which is' (p. 17). Yet the 'You ought to be pagan' comes from
'There is a multiplicity of incommensurable language games.' We might
say that the latter is not an 'is' but an Idea. But isn't it really an
'is' -- a description -- simply masquerading as an Idea? Or, if it
really is an Idea, then it (and the 'ought' -- the prescription) can be
traced back to a description ('Among the French intelligentsia there is
now a multiplicity of small narratives', p. 59).
  Any help will be gratefully received. (There are some other questions
I have but perhaps I'll save them until the response from this mail
tells me whether I've made a wise decision or committed a dreadful faux

Simon Choat.


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