The validity of this conjecture is precisely what Jean-François Lyotard analyses in his magnum opus The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. This essay will review the 1986 edition of Lyotard’s work.
Lyotard argues in the book that knowledge in the postmodern era has made a transitional shift from its preceding times. Stressing on the term ‘postmodern’, Lyotard makes it clear that socio-cultural factors post 1950 have played a major role in defining our perception of knowledge. Knowledge within the framework of postmodernism renders an intellectual barrier to humane understanding of what we experience. But at the same time, it strives to justify its superior sense of awareness rooted in modernism not “at its end but in the nascent state, and this state is constant” (Lyotard 1984: 79).
This inherent dichotomy in the placing of knowledge is central to Lyotard’s starting conjecture in the book. He draws on from the postulate that knowledge is a dynamic attribute to societal and cultural epochs. Time acts as a teleological means by which accumulation and sharing of knowledge are evaluated in both homogenous and heterogeneous social setups. This assessment, however, is not aimed at producing a uniform metric system upon which cultural notions can be justifiably linked up with the characteristics of a given era:
The pace is faster or slower depending on the country, and within countries it varies according to the sector of activity: the general situation is one of temporal disjunction which makes sketching an overview difficult (Lyotard 1984: 3).
What happens with the dissociative nature of time is that it does not allow for comprehensive synthesis of knowledge. Knowledge gained in one period is subject to modification or change in another. Lyotard regards this to be the intrinsic fallacy of scientific approaches to legitimise performances. He, therefore, introduces the concept of neutral ‘performativity’ to define the postmodern