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Differend Notice: Philosophy as a Genre Steven Galt Crowell 6 i n p HE TIME HAS COME TO PHILOSOPHIZE.” 1 Lyotard I thus epitomizes the context of his project: a moment follow­ ing upon the linguistic turn in philosophy (Wittgenstein, late Heidegger) when, for specific historical reasons (Auschwitz, capitalism), it has become important to philosophize. If The Differend inscribes this project, it must be possible for its phrases to become the referent of a commentary whose aim is to specify what “ not modern” (135) philoso­ phizing is. Commentary could pursue other aims. It could, for example, aim to expound the way the text “ tells time” so that just “ now” philoso­ phizing is called for. But when an author, whose previous works have rightly or wrongly become talismans in a cultural ritual celebrating the “ end of philosophy,” shelters his writing under the aegis of philosophy, it could be of interest to investigate what “ philosophy” here signifies. This Notice comments upon some of the “ senses” attributed to this name in The Differend. Philosophy is a genre. “ In the sense of poetics,” the genre of The Differend is the “ Essay,” viz., “ Observations, Remarks, Thoughts, and Notes which are relative to an object” (xiv). But poetics cannot decide anything about what it means to say that philosophy is a genre; since genre is itself one of the objects to which the philosophical remarks are relative, its “ what” {quid) is established through the senses of the philo­ sophical phrases which refer to it. In these terms, a genre is a way of sub­ mitting “ phrases from different regimens to a single finality” or aim (29). One aim of Lyotard’s philosophizing is “ to set up a philosophical politics” (xiii), but philosophy is not political theory. Theory (in both its speculative and critical versions) is a genre that monologically aims at “ mastery,” the language to adjudicate every dispute. Today it occasions only “ weariness” and “ a miserable slackening” (xiii). Nor does philoso­ phy belong to the genre of dialogue whose aim—production of consensus —excludes the possibility of thinking about what makes consensus impossible and, politically, undesirable, viz., the differend (84).2 Since “ politics is not a genre” but “ the possibility of the differend on the occa­ sion of the slightest linkage” (139), a politically relevant philosophizing must be a genre which allows this possibility to become visible as such: Vol. XXXI, No. 1 77 L ’E s p r it C r éa te u r enlightenment over the “ fragility” of deliberation (150).3 A philosophical politics is best modeled not by Hegel’s Philosophy o fRight but by Kant’s Critique o f Judgment. But politics is not the aim of the genre of philosophy per se (though it will be one of its “ stakes” ). Since “ everything is political,” politics is a kind of destiny which befalls the philosophical genre; but since “ politics is not everything,” it is not equivalent to it (139). One must seek out the generic “ aim” of philosophy, since it supplies the hypothetical impera­ tive governing the way phrases from heterogeneous phrase regimens are to be linked philosophically: “ you ought to link like this in order to get that” (116). “ Like this” indicates the presence of a rule, but the concept of rule is one of the most elusive in The Differend.4 At least two dis­ tinguishable senses of “ rule” are in play. First, there are rules which “ form phrase regimens” (116). These are not rules for linking phrases, but rules which constitute phrases as par­ ticular kinds. Phrases belong to a particular regimen if they present a homogeneous “ universe.” 5 There is the universe of the descriptive phrase, the prescriptive, the interrogative, the constative, etc. A phrase regimen would be the set of descriptive phrases, for example. Because phrase regimens do not determine rules of linkage, any phrase can be “ linked on” by any other phrase. Rules which determine “appropriate” linkage arise at the level of genres. Thus cognition, whose aim is verifi­ able truth, would be a genre prescribing a rule for linking phrases from the heterogeneous regimens of description and ostention (42).6Are these latter rules historical products, or permanent possibilities? Do the rules of the cognitive...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 77-89
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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