Indiana University Bloomington

Spring 2018: Schedule of the Reading Group

Conveners: Johannes Türk (Germanic Studies) and Estela Vieira (Spanish & Portuguese)

Unless noted otherwise, the reading group meets Fridays, 2 - 3:30 pm, at the College Arts & Humanities Institute, 1211 E. Atwater Avenue.


Jan 19: The Differend, xi-14.

Jan 26: Plato, Menexenus and The Republic, Books 2-3 (at the Online Library of Liberty or at the Perseus Digital Library).

Feb 2: The Differend, 14-31; Gorgias, On Nature or on the Non-Being.

Feb 9: The Differend, 32-58.

Feb 16: The Differend, 59-85; Aristotle, Physics (book IV, 10-14, focusing on 13).

Feb 23: The Differend, 86-106; Hegel, Encyclopedia or Science of Logic (excerpts).

March 2: Kant, Critique of Judgment, Introduction.

March 9: The Differend, 107-127.

March 23: The Differend, 128-150.

March 30: No meeting.

April 6: The Differend, 151-161.

April 13: Lyotard, “The Affect-phrase (from a Supplement to The Differend).” Meeting with speakers of the symposium.

April 20: Kant, “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose.”

April 27: The Differend, 161-181.

Jean-François Lyotard, The Differend:
Phrases in Dispute

When Lyotard published Le Différend in 1983, he aimed to think through conflicts that fail to yield to mediation. Heterogeneous claims that do not find a common ground in a rule of judgment are the theme of Kant’s Critique of Judgment and hence have been seen to belong to the realm of the aesthetic. For Lyotard, however, they characterize the relationship between competing sentence types that are at stake in every moment when we need to respond, continue, and insert ourselves into discourse. Drawing on major works from the philosophical tradition from Gorgias to the Critique of Judgment, from Benveniste’s writings on linguistics to Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, the book is a milestone of modern philosophy whose potential has not been fully explored. By aiming to illuminate cases such as the complaint without possible language to articulate a wrong or the denial of the Holocaust on the basis of missing empirical evidence, Lyotard speaks to our present moment. At the same time, he engages in a profound conversation with the philosophical tradition.

We will read and discuss The Differend together with passages from texts Lyotard comments on, among them Kant’s reflections on the sublime and sections of Plato’s dialogues.

Like all Center activities, the reading group too is open to the public.


The Reading Group constitutes the intellectual heart of the Center and predates the Center by many years. Here are some of the major texts the group has studied:

Adorno, Aesthetic Theory
Arendt, The Human Condition
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics.
Badiou, Being and Event.
Bergson, Matter and Memory.
Blumenberg,The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.
Cavell, The Claims of Reason.
Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.
Deleuze, Cinema I; Difference and Repetition.
Foucault, The Hermeneutics of the Subject.
Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Gadamer, Truth and Method.
Heidegger, Being and Time.
Husserl, The Crisis of European Sciences.
Merleau-Ponty, The Phenomenology of Perception; The Visible and the Invisible.
Plato, The Laws.
Rancière, The Names of History.
Zizek, The Puppet and the Dwarf.