Diagnoses of (Con)temporality: J.-F. Lyotard, J.-L. Nancy, M. Krieger, and P. Gilroy


  • Ewa Bobrowska Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland




contemporality, lyotard, nancy, krieger, gilroy


This paper focuses on the comparison of various theories of contemporality that emphasize the categories of time, movement, and contingency. The argument concerns the contemporary philosophy of Jean-François Lyotard, Jean-Luc Nancy, Murray Krieger, and Paul Gilroy. In his paper Time Today Lyotard perceives contemporary consciousness in terms of, extended by modern technology, capacity of implementing the past narratives within the structures of temporality. Meaning proceeds from the emotional attitude toward those past events. In this view, present immigration problems are linked to the issue of space related dimensions of traditional culture and its tendency towards inertia. On the other hand, Lyotard points to a new emerging model of the contemporary technology-based culture, which manages to surpass the obstacles of locality. However, as Lyotard claims, this process, based on the merging of technology, science and culture, does not lead to the increase of educational, economic, and moral standards of society, but instead gives rise to ”barbarism, illiteracy, impoverishment of language, new poverty.” In reference to Leibniz’s concept of a complex monad, Lyotard juxtaposes memory to event claiming that the modern era is characterized by the domination of oppositional forces of rationalizing and contingency. This opposition is analyzed in the light of a comparable concept introduced by Derrida based on the confrontation of the terms: event and machine.Moreover, a postcolonial critic Paul Gilroy in his Postcolonial Melancholia describes contemporary social phenomena with the use of terms conviviality, multiculturalism, immigration, race, globalism, and planetarity, which also encompass contingency and movement.