In this essay, Jean-François Lyotard revisits the question of the postmodern in relation to the “foundation crisis” in the mathematical sciences, arguing that this crisis should be conceived not in terms of the establishment of the foundations of scientific discourses but in terms of the foundation of sense experience in the given. He opposes Karl-Otto Apel's attempt to resolve the crisis through a metapragmatics that would ground reason according to the rules of argumentation of a community of rational agents. The crisis of foundations, he argues, is rather one of the retreat of the forms of space and time. Rather than a crisis of reason or cognitive discourse pure and simple, Lyotard situates the crisis in terms of Kantian aesthetics, as the loss of the immediate community of feeling in the beautiful and the advent of an “anaesthetics” of formlessness in the sublime.

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