• Book Review Why Philosophize? by Jean Francois Lyotard Prabuddha Bharata June 2018

    Narasimhananda Swami (see profile)
    Plato, Lacan, Jacques, 1901-1981, Marx, Karl, 1818-1883, Philosophy, Continental
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    proust, Lyotard, Lacan, Karl Marx, Continental philosophy
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    Philosophy is seen as a dry business. It is often considered to be the pastime of overread zealots, who are desperate to have some fixated world view. In the same vein, many have stereotyped Jean-François Lyotard to be just a postmodern thinker. Lyotard was definitely one, no arguing that, but he was more importantly a great philosopher. This book that raises a pertinent question, a book that questions the very need for philosophy, is a timely addition to the library of all philosophers and philosophy students. Lyotard substitutes the almost cliché question, ‘What is philosophy?’ with the more far-reaching question, ‘Why philosophize?’. He does this because he is concerned that ‘philosophy misses itself’ (17). This book is a translation of a typed text preserved at the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet, Paris. The text is the transcript of a series of lectures Lyotard gave to the students of Sorbonne University, Paris and the French original was first published only in 2012. Of the many merits of Andrew Brown’s translation, striking is his giving the French original of words that cannot be properly translated into English. Lyotard situates the need for philosophy in the more basic need for desire. He asks the important question: ‘Why desire?’ Lyotard contends that philosophy has gone out of the space of philosophy and has lost its form because the need for philosophy comes from the need to be, the need to exist.
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