While there was a flurry of articles throughout the 1990s in philosophy of education on Lyotard, there are still several key concepts in his oeuvre that have import for but remain largely underdeveloped or absent in the field. One of the most interesting of these absent concepts is Lyotard’s notion of the figural. In this paper, I take the figural as an educational problematic and ask what new educational insights it can generate in regard to the existing literature. As such, this article begins with a survey and synthesis of educational literature on Lyotard and the primary work on which most of it is based, exploring the relationship between knowledge, performativity, the differend, and “the system.” I then examine conceptions of education oriented toward defending the differend and disrupting the system and claim that, while helpful, these conceptions are limited in that they do not mention how educators and students might engage the alterity that the system seeks to repress. I believe that it is here that Lyotard’s notion of the figural can be productively engaged. The next section of the paper performs a partial and educationally partisan reading of Discourse, Figure. After this reading I move to formulate a figural education, which is composed of three educational processes and modes of engagement: reading, seeing, and blindness. A figural education, I argue, holds each of these practices in an uncertain and unsettling relation and, in so doing, can help educators defend the figural and the differend against the discursive demands of the system
Keywords Jean-Francois Lyotard  Discourse  Figure  Differend  Teaching
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11217-014-9428-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 65,578
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.J. F. Lyotard - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.
Discourse, Figure.J. -F. Lyotard - 1971 - University of Minnesota Press.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Derek Ford’s Inhuman Educations.Wiebe Koopal - 2021 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 40 (5):535-543.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Event of Sense in Lyotard's Discours, Figure.Bryan Lueck - 2010 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 41 (3):246-260.
Discourse, Figure by Jean-François Lyotard (Review).Jason Helms - 2013 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 46 (1):122-130.
Lyotard on Wittgenstein: The Differend, Language Games, and Education.Nicholas C. Burbules - 2000 - In Pradeep Ajit Dhillon & Paul Standish (eds.), Lyotard: Just Education. Routledge. pp. 36--53.
Lyotard, Nihilism and Education.Michael A. Peters - 2006 - Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (4):303-314.
Discourse, Figure.J. -F. Lyotard - 1971 - University of Minnesota Press.
The Lyotard Reader and Guide.Keith Crome & James Williams (eds.) - 2006 - Edinburgh University Press.
The Differend.Jean-François Lyotard - 1988 - University of Minnesota Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
27 ( #411,243 of 2,461,878 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #223,080 of 2,461,878 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes