Jean-François Lyotard's Différand: Ethics in Political Disputes

  • Prof. Dr. Areej Al-Khafaji
Keywords: Lyotard; differend; Auschwitz; Gaza; ethics; politics


      The concept of the differend signals the problématique of ethics in the linguistically ill-represented legal and political disputes where the victims lack the means of self-expression that guarantee repairing the wrong they suffered beforehand, or their phrase is not accompanied by a clear referent that convinces the tribunal to judge for their sake. Auschwitz, for Lyotard, is an example of the differend exercise in Nazi Europe which, he thought, could only be rectified in the declaration of what is called 'the State of Israel.' He neglects the fact that the Auschwitz descendants, who arise as a result of postmodern discourses on the failure of grand narratives to achieve justice, betrayed these discursive tools in their production of a 'Jewish State' that repeats the Holocaust trauma in Gaza Strip and Palestine in general. The focus of this paper is to examine the post-7 October Gaza as a Lyotardian reading dossier, or a reading case of differend whose main thesis is that, due to its insistence on silencing the brutal extermination of the Arabs in Gaza, Zionism continues to be a moral challenge to the 'civilized world,' a test to its hypothetical debt to the Other. Hence, critical theory should draw the readers' attention to the danger of naturalizing crimes of genocide or reducing personal responsibility to them. It has to represent Gaza in litigious terms rather than taking it as a differend.


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How to Cite
Al-Khafaji, P. D. A. (2024). Jean-François Lyotard’s Différand: Ethics in Political Disputes. Al-Qadisiyah Journal For Humanities Sciences, 27(1), 91 - 104. Retrieved from