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Lyotard and the Inhuman ConditionReflections on Nihilism, Information and Art$
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Ashley Woodward

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748697243

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748697243.001.0001

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The End of Time: Evolution, Extinction, and the Fate of Meaning

The End of Time: Evolution, Extinction, and the Fate of Meaning

(p.11) Chapter 1 The End of Time: Evolution, Extinction, and the Fate of Meaning
Lyotard and the Inhuman Condition

Ashley Woodward

Edinburgh University Press

Approximately one trillion, trillion, trillion (101728) years from now, the universe will suffer a “heat death.” What are the existential implications of this fact for us, today? This chapter explores this question through Lyotard’s fable of the explosion of the sun, and its uptake and extension in the works of Keith Ansell Pearson and Ray Brassier. Lyotard proposes the fable as a kind of “post-metanarrative” sometimes told to justify research and development, and indeed the meaning of our individual lives, after credulity in metanarratives has been lost: it replaces the adventure of the subject of history aimed towards the perfection and emancipation of the human with the adventure of inhuman, negentropic processes aimed towards the survival and extension of complexity. Negotiating Lyotard’s thought in relation to contemporary movements such as transhumanism and speculative realism, this chapter reflects on the existential significance of the “deep time” revealed by contemporary science.

Keywords:   Jean-François Lyotard, Transhumanism, Keith Ansell Pearson, Ray Brassier, Charles Jencks, Time

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