Metanarratives, Nihilism, and the End of Metaphysics: Wittgenstein and Lyotard
Context: The "linguistic turn" of Western philosophy ( Heidegger's later works, the penetration of Anglo-American philosophies into European thought, the development of language technologies); and correlatively, the decline of universalist discourses (the metaphysical doctrines of modern times: narratives of progress, of socialism, of abundance, of knowledge). The weariness with regard to "theory," and the miserable slackening that goes along with it (new this, new that, post-this, post-that, etc.). The time has come to philosophize.
-- Lyotard, 1988, p. xiii
In short, it [nihilism] stands like an extreme that cannot be gotten beyond, and yet it is the only true path of going beyond; it is the principle of a new beginning. . . . God is dead. God: this means God, but also everything else that, in rapid succession, has tried to take its place -- e.g., the ideal, consciousness, reason, the certainty of progress, the happiness of the masses, culture, etc. Everything not without value nevertheless has no absolute value of its own -- there is nothing man can rely on, nothing of any value other than the meaning given to it in an endless process.
-- Blanchot, 1987, p. 36
In The Postmodern Condition Jean-François Lyotard ( 1984) locates the problem of the legitimation of knowledge within the general context of the crisis of narratives and distinguishes between the modern and the postmodern in terms of the appeal to a metalanguage. The postmodern, he