The Differend

The Differend

The Differend: Phrases in Dispute
The French edition
Author Jean-François Lyotard
Original title Le Différend
Translator Georges Van Den Abbeele
Country France
Language French
Subject Philosophy
  • 1983 (Éditions de Minuit, in French)
  • 1988 (University of Minnesota Press, in English)
Media type Print

The Differend: Phrases in Dispute (French: Le Différend) is a 1983 book by Jean-François Lyotard.


  • Summary 1
  • Scholarly reception 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
    • Footnotes 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2


Lyotard reflects on how to make political and aesthetic judgments when there is no rule of judgment to which one can appeal, draws on Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment (1790) and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations (1953), and further develops his own previous discussion of language games in The Postmodern Condition (1979) and Just Gaming (1979). The différend of his title is a dispute between two or more parties, which work within language games so different from each other that no consensus can be reached on principles that could govern how the dispute might be settled: for example, conflicting claims to land rights between aboriginal peoples and current residents. Différends defy resolution, but the just approach is to respect each side's competing claims.[1]

The Holocaust, modernity, ethics, history and politics are discussed by Lyotard in relation to the différend.[2]

Scholarly reception

The Differend is considered Lyotard's most important work, and has been seen as providing the theoretical basis for much of his later work.[1][2]

See also



  1. ^ a b Schrift 1999. p. 523.
  2. ^ a b Malpas 1993. p. 134.


  • Malpas, Simon (1993). Jean-François Lyotard. London: Routledge.  
  • Schrift, Alan D. (1999). Audi, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.