The Differend

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The Differend: Phrases in Dispute
The Differend (French edition).jpg
Cover of the French edition
Author Jean-François Lyotard
Original title Le Différend
Translator Georges Van Den Abbeele
Country France
Language French
Subject Ethics, aesthetics
  • 1983 (Éditions de Minuit, in French)
  • 1988 (University of Minnesota Press, in English)
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 232 (1988 University of Minnesota Press edition)
ISBN 978-0816616114

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


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:[1] 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.[2] The Holocaust, modernity, ethics, history and politics are discussed by Lyotard in relation to the différend.[3]

Scholarly reception[edit]

The Differend is considered Lyotard's most important work, and has been seen as providing the theoretical basis for much of his later work.[2][3]


  • Lyotard, Jean-François (1988). The Differend: The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Lyotard 1988. p. ix.
  2. ^ a b Schrift 1999. p. 523.
  3. ^ a b Malpas 1993. p. 134.


  • Malpas, Simon (1993). Jean-François Lyotard. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-25615-1. 
  • Schrift, Alan D. (1999). Audi, Robert, ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-63722-8.