What theories by Jean Francois Lyotard relate to the Cold War period?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What strikes me about Lyotard's theories in the Cold War is the lack of a unifying principle to determine totality.  In a world paradigm where truth was essentially defined by Western capitalism and Soviet style Communism, Lyotard might argue that both sides were wrong.  They both sought to impose totality and absolutism in a false and artificial manner.  Both experiences start from a different point of view that is almost irreconcilable.  The socialist expression of freedom coming from the public domain and the liberal expression of freedom coming from the private expression might be an example of Lyotard's "differend" or a "phrase in dispute."  How does one assess which claim has greater validity?  If one were to do so, the force of adjudication reveals its own bias and its own limiting function.  Such a fundamentally postmodern belief that suggests the desire for totality is a futile endeavor might be something that reflects Lyotard's own contribution to the discourse, suggesting a "pox on both houses."

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