Jean Francois Lyotard: Knowledge Is Made To Sell (Materialized Knowledge)

Jean Francois Lyotard: Knowledge Is Made To Sell (Materialized Knowledge)

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

The idea that knowledge is produced to be sold is introduced in Jean-François Lyotard’s book “The Postmodern Situation: A Report on Knowledge”.

The book was originally written for the Council of Universities in Quebec, Canada, and the term “postmodern” in the title is significant. Although Lyotard did not coin the term, which has been used by various art critics since the 1870s, his book is responsible for its expansion and popularity. It is often said that the word used in this title indicates the beginning of postmodern thought.

The term “postmodernism” has since been used in so many different ways that it is now difficult to know exactly what it means, but Lyotard’s definition is very clear. He writes that postmodernism is “a question of suspicion towards meta-narratives”. Meta-narratives are single stories that come together to form the whole of human history or that will put all of our knowledge into a single framework. Marxism (the view that history is a series of struggles between social classes) is also an example of meta-narrative. Another example is that human history is a progress made by advances in scientific understanding towards deeper knowledge and social justice.

Our skepticism towards these meta-narratives implies a new skepticism. Lyotard this, with knowledge II. He argues that this is due to the shift in the way we relate since World War II and the massive shifts in the technology we use to cope with it. Computers have fundamentally changed our approach, as information becomes information that can be stored in databases, moved back and forth, and traded. Lyotard calls this the “commercialization” of knowledge. This has various implications. Lyotard points out that the first of these is the materialization of knowledge. Knowledge is no longer an aid to the development of minds. It also cuts the ties with the truth. It begins to be evaluated not in terms of how accurate it is, but in terms of how it will serve certain purposes. About the information “is it true?” Abandoning the questions “How can it be sold?” When we start asking questions, knowledge becomes a commodity. Lyotard worries that once this happens, private organizations will seek to control the flow of information and decide who gets access to what type of information and when.

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook