Analysis of Lyotard’s Thoughts

Lyotard is a postmodern philosopher and here I would like to sketch some of his prominent thoughts. He begins by defining modernist literature as those associated with Virginia Wolf, T S Eliot and James Joyce and Art with Cubism, Impressionism and Surrealism.

He explicates postmodernism as a fusion between elitism and populism embodying extreme irony parody, pastiche-the use of magic realism.

He then goes on to analyze modernity as the beginning of renaissance, capitalism and Protestantism, the American and the French revolution. Modernity is characterized by innovation, wealth creation, technology and justice.

In ‘the postmodern condition’ he traces the condition of knowledge in developed societies. How is knowledge organized and employed in societies? Knowledge has become a commodity brought and sold on the market and also is the basis of power.

States are beginning to lose their grip over the world. The world is taken over by Oil corporations, computer industries and pharmaceuticals. They use patent laws to claim ownership of knowledge.

There are two types of knowledge systems: scientific knowledge and narrative knowledge. Narrative knowledge stems from different fields like art, literature, sociology and psychology. All these forms of discourses are language games. The rules of a game are not natural but determined by a community. Every utterance should be thought of as move in a game. Modification of rules alters the nature of the game. Different societies have diverse forms of law, politics and legislation. The organization of games and narratives is performed by meta-narratives.

There are two types of meta-narratives-the speculative grand narrative and the grand narrative of emancipation. The speculative grand narrative begins with Hegel and he calls it the spirit which is mans progress of knowledge. All the language games are brought together to present a universal history of the spirit. The grand narrative of emancipation presents knowledge as the basis for human freedom and liberty. The grand narrative of emancipation began with the French revolution. The universalization of education means freeing all citizens from domination and mysticism.

The enlightenment era focuses on the freedom of people from religious superstitions and Marxist narratives focuses on the freedom of workers.

In postmodern culture grand-narratives or meta-narratives have lost their credibility. Postmodern knowledge is marked by efficiency and profitability. The aim is to make production and consumption cheaper.

Individuals are sites where ranges of conflicting moral and social codes intersect and the social bond in fragmented.

The best means to resist globalization of capitalism is increasing fragmentation of games. For example in Quantum physics, the laws of physics cease to operate at the subatomic level and games become the language of probability.

Experimental work of art and literature should challenge the art and tradition of the avant garde art and literature. Art has the capacity to generate political action and also resist the dehumanizing impact of free market capitalism. The aim of communication is for reaching consensus between various participants.

Postmodernism is the art of destabilization and achieving the status of the sublime.

Lyotard has introduced the concept of the differand. It could be explained with the help of an example. A company wanted to build its factory in Australian aboriginal land. The aboriginals cannot give up the land because the land is sacred. But the aboriginals cannot prove in court the sacredness of the land. Lyotard does not explicitly say what decision the court should take. He defines such complex legal situation as one of being a Differand. The complexity of rendering justice is a dilemma as both sides stands to lose if the judgment favors one.

Health Literacy Is for the Healthy

“Health Literacy” is the ability to read, understand and act upon health information. And, more than half of the American population is not proficient on this topic. Unfortunately, the above definition is the point after which most head into the wrong direction. Unless a significant misnomer, by definition, the focus of health literacy should be two-fold, enhancement of functional literacy (period) and increased attention to the issues of health.

The general public reads very little non-commercial, health-related materials, the content being very challenging. Additionally, people consume too much sugar, consume alcohol and excesses of red meats, processed grains, artificial chemical additives, too few and unvaried fruits and vegetables, and eat too much. Many also smoke, use recreational drugs, misuse prescription drugs, exercise too little and engage in other social and recreational activities that are harmful to them physically and psychologically. Much of that which I just described and many more contributors to poor personal and public health are legally accessible and even marketed to you. The question is, who is responsible for your health knowledge and healthy behaviors (health care) versus your medical status (medical care)?

Your mechanic recommends selecting quality fuels, lubricants, and other fluids, and changing them regularly. You should manage your tires’ pressure and watch tread wear. You check your brakes’ function and monitor all for all other signs of possible malfunction. And, although there are plenty of after-market and alternative products and services by which to care for your vehicles, no clear-thinking person deviates demonstrably from use/maintenance recommendations if expecting vehicles to perform well and last. Such is because motor vehicles are sold with maintenance recommendations and schedules that you read, developing your “automotive care literacy”.

The western medical professional community markedly fails to train its cadre well in subjects of prevention, health maintenance, and safe. high performance, physical fitness for the masses. This also includes failure to train them to care substantially about the health literacy of their clientele. Nationally, we spend a lot of money on a Center for Disease Control, Planned Parenthood [primarily STD/STI and services for sex-related diseases], and local public health agencies (focus upon epidemiology, primary medical care, local epidemics management). And, we wrangle politically over the role of government versus the private sector for the provision of all services, particularly those that are values-based. However, public health literacy (education) is a non-revenue generating activity and receives minimal attention.

While in the public many clamor for inalienable rights to comprehensive medical care, the general public doesn’t march for the rights to universal health literacy. Nor does it ask the government to require the market to be more responsible for promoting products, services and social behaviors consistent with universal health. Yet, we must not allow the government, nor the socially and financially empowered to suggest that speaking against “unhealthy” environments, foods, untoward products and behaviors (and effects of) is inappropriate, and thereby “politically incorrect” behavior, unless you want current vocal ideologies to drive health care and not literacy.