The Notion of Interdisciplinarity in The Postmodern Condition

A session led by Edita Wolf

While grand narratives constructed by the means of metaphysical philosophy legitimate the modern condition of knowledge, incredulity toward metanarratives characterizes the postmodern condition. In his seminal text, Jean-François Lyotard explores the process of de-legitimation of knowledge claims vis-à-vis the end of grand narratives and the parallel emergence of a new legitimation secured in terms of performance and efficiency in the field of knowledge production. The system of disciplines rooted in speculative discourse is thereby replaced by practice justifiable only by the principles of performance and efficiency. On the basis of Lyotard’s text a revision is needed in relation to contemporary debates on theory of interdisciplinarity, where interdisciplinarity becomes either a political exigency or a notion that should yield a deeper meaning to the present status of knowledge production. Thus interdisciplinarity seems to work as a substitute for the old philosophical notions that is detached from the actual workings of today’s science. A re-reading of The Postmodern Condition, that is of an announcement of the end of the discipline of philosophy by a philosopher, will bring us to a reflection on interdisciplinarity as a particular practice that would not necessarily entail construction of a discourse of legitimation.


Jean-François Lyotard. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translated by Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984 [1979].
Read the book or alternatively the introduction and pp. 31-70.